Former UCI president also defends his record on motorised doping


Former UCI president Pat McQuaid has spoken out against the introduction of disc brakes into the pro peloton, saying that they are “completely ridiculous” and “could cause injuries in crashes”.

In an interview with L’Equipe, McQuaid criticised the UCI and Brian Cookson, saying that Cookson made a mistake in bringing in new staff when he took over as president in 2013, with the lack of experience in the organisation being manifested in “decisions that I [McQuaid] do not understand.”

>>> Chris Froome wary of disc brakes in the peloton in 2016

The main example of this given by McQuaid is the introduction of disc brakes. The former president criticised the UCI as being “irresponsible” for giving teams the choice of running either disc brakes or rim brakes, with the different braking power of the two systems having the potential to cause crashes, and disc rotors possibly causing injuries.

McQuaid’s views echo the sentiments of pro riders such as Alex Dowsett and Nathan Haas, who have spoken out against the use of disc brakes due to the potential danger they could pose to riders, particularly in mass pile-ups.

>>> Everything you need to know about the motorised doping scandal

The former UCI president also took the opportunity to comment on the motorised doping scandal that has enveloped the sport over the last month.

The Irishman seemed to take a more gentle approach to the likes of Marc Madiot (who last week called for lifetime bans for all involved), instead stressing that most of the responsibility should lie with the Belgian Federation and Femke Van den Driessche’s team, rather than with the rider herself.

UCI technical manager Mark Barfield has previously said that he thought motorised bikes had been used in the WorldTour during the Irishman’s time as president, but McQuaid stressed how he had acted quickly in response to rumours of motorised doping, carrying out checks as early as the 2010 Tour de France.

  • Ciaran Carroll

    No 53 on my bike…I’m sorry for being pedantic

  • JayKay

    I really don’t get all the worry about these “spinning knives”, which they are not, put out by those who are opposed to disc brakes. What do you call a 53 tooth chain ring that every single bike has? Seems to me in virtually all crashes, whether a single rider or a mass pile up the biggest worry is hitting the deck, not another bike, even though it happens countless times. Broken collarbones come from the road, not another bike. The majority of serious injuries come from impacting the ground, not a bike.

  • Noc Pim

    I ride both and find the discs under any conditions far more intuitive giving much more feedback and control. Although they are more powerful, with the increased control the risk of locking up and skidding is I believe decreased. As with all developments and the introduction of new equipment there is always a resistance to change. Before we all go off on a rant let us see how the introduction of disc brakes affects the peloton. Most importantly enjoy the racing.

  • Stephen Hawkins

    And most of those riders haven’t ridden with disk brakes either. Those in the peloton who have ridden with them are the ones who want them. Please try a set before saying they are bad. Once the peleton have tried them, they wont want the cruddy old rim brakes back ever again, trust me.
    20 years ago all dirt bikes had drum brakes and they laughed at anyone suggesting disk brakes (“they will get mud on them” etc). Then somebody tried it and guess what, nobody would even contemplate a drum brake nowadays. They did the same when they tried them on Mountain bikes, but now all serious mountain bikes have them

  • Michael

    If all teams/riders were to move to disc braking then the risk due to differential braking ability may be no worse than today, it it might even be lower – but i’d guess that mandating disc brakes would be even harder than banning them.
    I haven’t even ridden with disc brakes never mind raced, but as it appears the concern is coming from those who are at the sharp end (i.e. the riders) i think it needs to be taken seriously.

  • Stephen Hawkins

    Unless its wet in which case the rim brake bike might not do ought for a while! With disks you have so much better modulation you can hit that sweet spot between max brakes and tyre grip much easier

  • Stephen Hawkins

    What, so with the whole peloton with disks and able to brake harder then there is a higher chance for more of the pack to brake in time to miss the collision. And don’t tell me that with the difference in rim materials and brake pads available on the peloton now there isn’t already a huge difference in braking powers
    As for damage, MTB’s manage to crash all the time and into each other as well and there is NO difference in injuries. The sharp cable ends and arms of rim brakes make just as potent injury points as a disk that’s half hidden inside the forks and that has a blunt edge
    Michael, have you owned a disk braked bike? These are non issues

  • Michael

    The kind of braking scenarios where you might have the time to modulate your effort aren’t really a cause for concern, however if you are racing hard at 30mph plus in a tightly packed bunch and there is either a crash in front or sudden, hard braking then many riders will simply brake as hard as they can and hope for the best; obviously people react at different speeds and we see the resulting pile-ups – a very large difference in the effectiveness of the brakes themselves is going to exacerbate this. However what appears to be a bigger concern is the ability of the discs to do damage to flesh when a pile-up occurs.

  • Richard Braginton

    if u apply too much brake on a road bike with tyres at 100psi you will lock the wheel doesn’t matter whether it’s rim or disc.

  • Stephen Hawkins

    Interesting as I’ve been on many club cycles using my full suspension MTB with disk brakes (with slick tyres) and never caused an accident or came close to one, despite being able to potentially out-brake, out-steer and out jump the rest of the peloton. I may have the ability to out-brake them, but the extra modulation, feel and control of disk brakes means I can limit my braking to normal levels
    Only those that have never used disk brakes, and are afraid of change wouldn’t use them by choice, they are superior in just about every way over rim brakes. Saying they will cause accidents is an argument from those who have no valid points. May as well ban Ali rims as rim brakes work far better on those than carbon rims, or ban all brakes like on the track, just in case someone ever slows down

  • Namothy

    The more I consider the decision to allow disc brakes, the less inclined I am to support their use. I was at first very positive give my use of them in MTB scenarios since around 2009, but the mass piled up consideration – a very real and commonplace in road cycling – has be thinking that the introduction of a part that more resembles a blade than anything else on a road bike is not a good idea. Do we really need to have the first serious accident before we recognise it as a serious concern?

    I think teams or the UCI need to ensure that those riding with discs in competition must sign and accept that damages caused to others by their use even in the event of a crash will see liability for the damage cause by that accessory irrespective of cause of the crash to be wholly the responsibility of the bike owner using the disc brake. This is precisely why I don’t ride around town carrying a spear,.