September 7, 2011
Race Radios Leave Egg On Vaughters Poker Face

The AIGCP and the UCI have reached an agreement over radios and Beijing. But who got the better deal?

It is said that the British have a reputation for not being able to haggle. There is, apparently, something deep within the psyche of those peoples which makes it nigh on impossible to enter into negotiations which could see them get a better deal on the things they want. Paying for goods or services almost becomes an apology. “Are you really sure that you don’t want me to give you any more money for this item? I don’t mind, old chap. Really, I don’t.”.

The inhabitants of other countries, we are told, tend to fare better with the business of bartering. Americans, it is said, being especially good at it. For in the land of the free commerce is an inalienable right and it is understood from the moment that the curtain goes up in the theatre of transaction, all the players know that it is every man for his or herself.

Of course these are huge sweeping generalizations. There are people in the UK who can come away from buying a new car not only having got thousands of pounds off the asking price but also a year’s Road Tax (common parlance, Carlton, don’t get worked up - Pedant Ed), free insurance, free petrol for a year and conjugal rights with the salesman’s wife whenever the purchaser fancies.

Similarly, when faced with the natural bell curve of populace against national trait, there are bound to be thousands of Americans who come away from intense negotiations feeling that they have been well and truly shafted.

Which brings us neatly to Jonathan Vaughters.

Shane Stokes of Velonation.com wrote yesterday that the teams association, AIGCP, whose President is the afore-mentioned Jonathan Vaughters, and the UCI have kissed and made up following some tense times in the past year. Their differences stemming from the banning of race radios and a threat by the teams to boycott the newly installed Tour Of Beijing.

Things, we were told, got so heated that members of the AIGCP had organised a walk-out of a meeting with the UCI which led to a furious Pat McQuaid and Cyclingnews.com not being able to hold a camera properly.

In truth, the walk-out was less organised than we were led to believe. This was not co-ordinated action. It was unilaterally instigated by one particular Directeur Sportif in the absence of the AIGCP’s President and everyone else simply followed suit thinking that they had missed the memo.*

However, it was clear that the situation would have to addressed before October and the start of the Tour Of Beijing and you would think that Vaughters would be confident going into the negotiations.

Why? Well, apart from being an American and hopefully falling into that part of the bell curve which finds it easy to haggle, the AIGCP President seemed to hold all the cards. The Tour Of Beijing, for those that don’t know, is being organised by Global Cycling Promotion SA, a company that members of the UCI, Pat McQuaid included, have a direct financial stake in. The race has been given World Tour status without so much as a ‘by your leave’ - although McQuaid insists that there was no conflict of interest in the UCI’s race being given such status by the UCI’s licensing commission.

The issue of race radios, it was felt, was merely a cover for a desire to gain more influence when more important decisions were made. We’ll boycott Beijing unless we get our radios back, was the public cry, but privately anything could be up for grabs. If the teams didn’t go to McQuaid’s race, not only would the UCI be left with a considerable amount of egg on their chin, but Global Cycling Promotion SA would be considerably out of pocket. If you wanted to conjure up a mental image of the situation try Jonathan Vaughters grabbing Pat McQuaid by the, ahem, “gentleman’s vegetables” area while shouting “Dance, monkey boy, dance!”.

So as I read Shane’s piece on Velonation.com I was intrigued to find out what the UCI had agreed to in exchange for the teams’ participation in Beijing.

Well, for starters race radios will be re-introduced for WorldTour and .HC events. Also………………hang on. Oh, right. Well, it seems that’s about it.

So Jonathan Vaughters, as President of the AIGCP, has sat down with the UCI holding all the aces and come away with a concession on race radios!? I can’t help but see this, as I’m sure Pat McQuaid will, as a victory for the UCI and nothing short of an utter shafting for the teams and riders. Vaughters seems to have gone into the chocolate factory holding a Golden Ticket and come out with nothing more than a couple of Coffee Creams - and who the hell likes the Coffee Creams?! Jonathan, we expected the chocolate waterfall, the three-course meal in a stick of gum, chocolate delivered by television. And while we’re at it, a few Oompa-Loompas scattered about the bloody place wouldn’t have gone amiss!

Rumour has it that the UCI threatened to pull the ProTour licenses of every team that did not go to Beijing and that sponsors were even contacted to get their teams to comply. That, Jonathan, is known as a bluff. Take a moment. Think about it. If the teams didn’t go to Beijing there would have been a hell of a mess, but in reality this is a newly installed, controversial race with no history, no pedigree, relatively little in the way of current sponsors interests and no die-hard fans to disappoint. On the other hand, pulling the licenses of all the teams that refused to go would be cataclysmic for the UCI. They simply would not have done it. Bluff.

Pat McQuaid, Alan Rumpf and all concerned with the Tour Of Beijing must be laughing all the way to the bank over this.

So when Jonathan Vaughters comes home to find Pat McQuaid sitting in his favourite armchair, wearing his slippers, smoking his pipe and sporting a post-coital grin he should really know that he only has himself to blame.

*Update: I have just been very reliably informed (and when I say very, do mean VERY) that the walk out was not a unilateral decision made by one DS, but was organised by the board. Apologies for this. Hopefully more on this story soon…

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