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Dear David: Felix Lowe's open letter to UCI boss Lappartient

Felix Lowe
28 Nov 2017

As we move into the season of giving, Cyclist's columnist has some advice for cycling's top official

Dear David, félicitations on your 37-8 rugby-score-of-a-victory over Brian Cookson in the election to become head of the UCI.

I hope your mauled predecessor handed over the lanterne rouge and UCI-branded rucksack on his way out of the headquarters in Aigle, Switzerland.

As Breton takes over from Briton – one white male cycling cognoscente from north-west Europe replacing another – at the top of an ailing global sport’s governing body, I’d like to take this opportunity to speak on behalf of my fellow cycling fans.

No sooner had you taken over the reins than we were treated to the sumptuous spectacle of the World Championships in Bergen, Norway.

Perhaps your first move should be to use some of the wads of cash paid by Qatar to host last year’s Worlds to bail out the impoverished Norwegian Cycling Federation, which has had to go to local fans to raise cash to pay for the whole shindig.

That red carpet they used for the time-trial bike-change zone really wasn’t cheap.

In fact, here’s an idea: scrap the fee for the Worlds altogether. Then perhaps your plans of an African Worlds may actually happen.

While you’re in crusading mode, it’s time to get serious about motors. There are clearly too many veteran motor-dopers on the French and Italian amateur scene, not to mention embedded within the Belgian junior women’s cyclocross circuit.

Let’s hang them out to dry. In fact, make all frame tubing transparent – and we don’t mean the kind of transparency that usually clouds the UCI.

While you’re at it, make all bidons see-through, too. And less sticky.

But seriously, Dave – can we call you Dave? – it’s high time a big-name rider was nailed for motor doping.

Arm your men with more than a faulty magnetic tablet. Give Christophe Bassons Blade Runner powers and a new Renault Clio Turbo to clamp down on the cheats.

That way us cynics won’t believe it’s merely wall plasterers called Cyril who are running on more than leg power.

Now let’s talk money. Any new chapter for the UCI must include a more sustainable business model for pro cycling, such as revenue sharing and budget caps.

Not only is the sponsorship model precarious, it means we fans have to learn a new set of team names every year, and we end up with monstrosities such as Team EF Education First-Drapac Presented By Cannondale. How are they even going to fit that on the jersey?

Most of all, it’s time the UCI actually did something about promoting women’s cycling.

Sadly, Dave, your record isn’t very encouraging on this point – during your time as president of the French federation, more women’s races folded than men’s pro teams, and that’s a lot.

Push for a minimum wage and equal prize money. Show more races on TV and make it compulsory for WorldTour teams to have a women’s team.

Maybe badger Velon to introduce a women’s Hammer that’s not called the Anvil?

Talking of Velon, get them in a room with ASO boss Christian Prudhomme, pour everyone a nice glass of wine and thrash things out.

If it appeases Velon, let them record the whole thing on a GoPro. But whatever you do, prove you’re not in the pocket of the sport’s biggest race organiser.

Give the Tour a series of ultimatums: remove radios and power meters from the peloton, introduce disc brakes and in the case of Froome’s bike make this braking system remotely controllable by the race director. That should level the playing field a little.

Finally, Dave, how about revamping the UCI website? After all, the internet has moved on since Hein Verbruggen was in charge.

Just go easy with selfies on Twitter – you’ve got to at least give the impression that you’re working during your four-year tenure or you’ll be joining Brian on the scrapheap.

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