New UCI President Brian Cookson is wasting no time leaving his mark on bicycle racing, including cyclocross. Cookson recently appointed American Mike Plant to be president of the UCI Cyclocross Commission, replacing Czech (and Czech Cycling Federation president) Dr. Marian Stetina.
Mike Plant’s resume is impressive, and he clearly keeps busy with a full-time job and many other sporting leadership roles. His day job is serving as an Executive Vice President of Business Operations for the Atlanta Braves Major League Baseball team, but Plant also currently serves as president of the US Speedskating federation’s board of directors. Plant, an important ally in Cookson’s election campaign, also was re-elected to serve another four-year term on the UCI’s Management Committee.
The former speedskater has also served as a member of the board of directors of the Atlanta Committee for the 1996 Olympic Games and president of the Goodwill Games. The new UCI cyclocross leader’s experience isn’t limited to wheels, skates, bats and balls, as he also has served as executive director of the U.S. Canoe and Kayak Team.
While Plant could be considered part of the new guard as new UCI president Cookson’s appointee to lead cyclocross, he’s also part of the old guard, having served the last four years on the UCI’s Management Committee. Recently, the American said he was ready to step down if Pat McQuaid was re-elected, and Plant had co-authored a dossier on the former UCI president.
Plant is no stranger to cycling roles, and served domestically as associate executive director and then from 1995 to 2002 president of the board of directors of USA Cycling. He also was the director of the Tour de Trump and Tour DuPont, the biggest American road race at the time.
“I am honored and excited to be selected as president of the UCI Cyclo-cross Commission,” said Plant. “Cyclocross has grown dramatically in the U.S. over the past five years and in 2013 we were honored to host in the U.S. the first Cyclocross World Championships held outside of Europe.”
Cyclocrossers may be surprised to have someone with such a diverse background and limited cyclocross administrative experience lead our niche sport at the international level, but the counter argument is that Plant’s professional, Olympic and multi-sport perspective may be just what cyclocross needs to get to the next level of professional sports with more attention, air time, international participation and of course resources.
With such extensive Olympic experience, perhaps Plant will have a chance to build a case for cyclocross being added to the Winter or Summer Olympics, although Peter Van den Abeele, the UCI’s Cyclocross Coordinator, told Cyclocross Magazine the IOC won’t budge on the mandatory snow or ice rule, and is being extremely selective in adding sports. Van den Abeele has confirmed with Cyclocross Magazine that his role as coordinator will not change but the other UCI Cyclocross Commission members will be appointed by the end of the month by the UCI Management Committee. Currently, American Geoff Proctor and legend Sven Nys also serve on the commission, among others.
But how about a cyclocross race at the Atanta Braves stadium? We won’t hold our breath but it’s not impossible if Plant wants to combine his roles for a day, as off-road bicycle races have been held in American stadiums even larger than Turner Field in the past.
One thing that we know will make a few passionate American cyclocrossers’ lives easier is that they can rest easy knowing any petition, letter or email sent to the president of the UCI Cyclocross Commission won’t be lost in translation.
Stay tuned as we bring you the latest news on this leadership change.
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