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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 >>>> 

WCN : When did you retire from competitive racing?

LJ : 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?

LJ : 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.

WCN : Competing in cycling is tough, what are you thoughts on how to get more women involved?

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

WCN : What are your plans after the LA World Track Championships?

LJ : 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?

LJ : 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?

LJ : 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

WCN : Were you involved in the new track at Newport in Wales and the Womenís World Cup which comes to the UK for the first time with the event at Newport in August 2005?

LJ : 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?

LJ : 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

WCN : Have you ever thought about using your extensive knowledge of the track in a coaching capacity?

LJ : 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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To view photos of Louise Jones  click here, or click on the images below >>

 
IMG_0228.jpg (33073 bytes)
Louise Jones poses for the camera before an evening session of racing in LA
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Jones, in radio contact with the other officials, walks alongside French sprinter, MickaŽl Bourgain to ensure he keeps to the rules of the race