Interview with Louise Jones - UCI international commissaire
At the recent Track World Championships, WomensCycling.net took some time out to talk to one-time champion racer and now UCI commissaire, Louise Jones, from Wales. She spent most of the Championships doing something she loves - watching the racing and she got to do it from the best spot in the velodrome - trackside.
Louise shared some thoughts about track racing 10 years ago compared to now and gave WCN an insight into the world of UCI officialdom.
Here's the Interview >>>>
When did you retire from competitive racing?
: At the end of
2000, although I did take some time off in 1994 and 1997 to have two
children and I felt I had done enough at that time in racing. After the
break in 1997 I got back on my bike and decided that it was time to start
racing again. I enjoyed my last few seasons of competitive racing but in
2000 I decided that the effort required to race at a high level was not
worth the time I could put in to get that extra 1% to race at a top level.
It would have meant an extra 10-12 hours a week training. I could not
commit that sort of time to it any more, particularly with a young family.
WCN : How
long have you been a UCI Commissaire?
LJ : I qualified almost as soon as I stopped racing. I had been a National Commissaire for some time and I knew I wasnít going to race anymore, the British Cycling Federation did not hesitate in putting me forward
WCN : Which
events are you qualified to Commissaire?
: I'm qualified to
commissaire, track, road and cyclocross, although I have never covered a
big cyclocross event. I am not qualified to cover mountain biking although
I have officiated at local events
WCN : How
long did it take you from your initial National Commissaire qualification
to be recognised as a UCI commissaire?
LJ : I
qualified in 1994 as a National Commissaire, I started off doing the
National track events as this is the discipline I knew. I also knew what I
could get away with as a rider and knew what to look out for.
Transitioning to road was a little harder, you need to control the team
cars, bigger circuits and larger bunches. I got thrown in the deep end my
first event as a UCI commissaire was at a Womenís World cup event on the
road, it was either sink or swim.
Competing in cycling is tough, what are you thoughts on how to get more
LJ : Youngsters
have so much to do now and so many sports they can compete in. Cycling is
a hard sport, you get a few girls coming into the sport thinking it will
be glamorous then realise how hard it is, they give up. Organisations have
to try to encourage women and girls to get to events together, they can
motivate each other to keep going. There do seem to be some girls coming
through but we do have a big gap between Nicole Cooke and Rachel Heal.
There seem to be more riders coming through as [national]
federations try to invest in cycling
What are your plans after the LA World Track Championships?
: I am at the
Archer GP [one of the biggest men's races in the UK
calendar] when I go home, then a string of menís races across
Europe. Every weekend seems to be taken up with an event
WCN : How
many Women UCI commissaries are there - do you know?
: There are about
10 in Europe I think, not many compared to the number of male commissaires.
Although the number seems to have doubled over the last year
WCN : Do
you try to get womenís events when you can?
: This year I donít have any womenís events, I think that shows the
progression in the quality of femaleís in the sport and the ability of
the female commissaires in the sport. As womenís cycling grows, more men
as assigned to commissaire the womenís events, and the female
commissaries to the menís events
: Yes I was
initially, but this year I have decided to withdraw from Welsh Cycling [Union],
this year due to personal reasons. The Womenís World cup was due to be
run by Welsh Cycling [Union] but it was handed up to British
Cycling. This is disappointing as the event attracts good revenue for the
local cycling region that will be missed
WCN : Will
you be travelling to Melbourne for the Commonwealth Games in March 2006?
: I hope I will be working as a commissaire but this is to be confirmed
WCN : If
you had the chance to choose between racing and being a commissaire what
would you choose?
LJ : I enjoyed the racing but as you get older its harder, although I wish I had the opportunity to ride some of these new indoor tracks. I enjoy being a commissaire, it keeps me involved in the sport, and I could watch track racing all day
Have you ever thought about using your extensive knowledge of the track in
a coaching capacity?
: Yes, I offered to
get involved with the national federation but I was declined. I do have
some local riders that I am happy to work with, I was disappointed not to
get involved at a National level though
WCN : What
was your favourite track when you were racing?
LJ : It has to be Auckland as I won there, although there are many tracks round the world that I enjoyed racing on. I would like to be racing now on the new tracks around the world. I raced in East Germany; the facilities they had were amazing - much better than anywhere else in the world at the time. Of course itís different now, the rest of the world has caught up.
We had fun racing, now there are World Cup events during the year culminating in the World Championships. We used to have the GP events, but times have moved on, I am glad I did what I did back then you canít really compare it with racing now. Riders have much more support and financial backing now. The riders can focus on just racing, not racing and working full time itís easier for them now.
Thanks to Louise Jones for her time in a hectic track schedule.
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|Louise Jones poses for the camera before an evening session of racing in LA|
|Jones, in radio contact with the other officials, walks alongside French sprinter, MickaŽl Bourgain to ensure he keeps to the rules of the race|