Behind-the-Scenes: Andrew McQuaid gives insight into his job as an agent
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Thursday, September 02, 2010

Behind-the-Scenes: Andrew McQuaid gives insight into his job as an agent

by Ed Hood at 10:53 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Interviews
 
Deal maker for some of cycling's bright young talents discusses the industry

Andrew McQuaidAs the rumour clouds continue to swirl around the professional cycling transfer market, and many out of contract pros look forward to a nervous few weeks, VeloNation again goes behind the scenes to talk to one of the men whose job it is to keep riders employed.

Andrew McQuaid has a familiar second name, as he is indeed the son of International Cycling Union (UCI) President, Pat McQuaid.  However, writing rules and overseeing the sport are not part of the 26 year olds remit.  McQuiad is instead busy making sure he brokers the best deal for his clients.

He has now racked up experience on both sides of the sport, emerging first in cycling as a young pro for the Sean Kelly team.  His next step was to earn a degree in law at the university, which he augmented by becoming a registered tax consultant with the Irish Tax Institute.  He earned a diploma in arbitration, and now runs Azzurri Sports Management, a company that looks after the interests of some of the brightest young names in cycling.

For Part 2 of VeloNation's look behind the scenes of the peloton, McQuaid took the time to talk about a transfer market situation that’s showing no signs of cooling, and shared some insight as to what is involved with being an agent.

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VeloNation: How did you get into the business of being an agent, Andrew?

Andrew McQuaid: I raced in Belgium with Sean Kelly so I understand the sport; when I had to enter the real world I qualified in law and I’m a qualified tax consultant.

When Philip Deignan was about to sign for Cervélo he asked me to help with his contract – it all stemmed from there, really.

We’ve never chased riders, it’s all been by word of mouth.

VN: Who do you have on the books?

AM: Daryl Impey, Daniel Martin, Nicholas Roche, Philip Deignan, Richie Porte, Christophe le Mevel, Sebastien Chavanel, Taylor Phinney – we have over 20 riders now.

VN: Tell us about these contracts we hear so much about.

It’s a standard contract framed by the UCI which most teams recognise, as do the riders’ association and Pro Tour Council.

But national laws do come into play when dealing with contracts, and you can have issues of which ruling takes precedence.

Philip DeignanVN: And it’s a buyer’s market for pros...

AM: Definitely!

The market was already bad with the likes of Milram pulling out, teams were waiting to see who was going to be available – and then Cervélo collapsed.

I had a couple of riders who I had almost placed with teams, but when the Cervélo situation developed they said, ‘maybe we’ll hold on and wait a little longer before we decide.’

But it’s not all bad, there’s the new Australian Fly V team on the horizon and you can perhaps see a natural link there for a rider like [Heinrich] Haussler.

If Haussler goes to Garmin [ed. which he now has at the time of publishing]  you could see that being a bit of a hard marriage with Hushovd and Farrar there too.

It’s not just about money; it’s about programme and support.

VN: Do you find it an honourable world to deal in?

AM: There’s nothing really dodgy, but I have a loyalty to my riders and must protect their interests.  That means that I might not make friends with many team managers.

On the other side you have a situation where Jonathan Vaughters is bringing on board the Cervélo riders.  You can imagine some of the Garmin riders not being happy, but Vaughters has to do what’s best for his team.

VN: Are cycling agents regulated?

AM: Not at the moment, but there was a UCI committee meeting where the introduction of regulation was discussed.  I think that the Bradley Wiggins situation with Garmin and Sky last winter raised awareness of the need for more control.

VN: Do you give your riders help with other financial matters?

AM: I help them with tax issues, we set up websites for the Irish guys and we deal with their private sponsors for them.  What I always say to them is; ‘if you need help with something, ask; if I can help, I will, if not I’ll find someone who can help.’

VN: What is your take on the way the Cervélo situation was handled?

AM: From a public relations point of view and from the riders’ points of view it wasn’t handled well.

The decision should have been made sooner, but I know that Cervélo set themselves a target of mid-August to get additional sponsors on board and that didn’t happen.

VN: Is it the case that a rider could do well financially out of Cervélo folding?

AM: No, but they should be in the same position they were with Cervélo.

If they have a contract and transfer to Garmin then it will be honoured; if they have a contract and are not going to Garmin and then sign with another team, Cervélo are due to pay them only the shortfall.

[Ed. If a rider was on a 100,000 Euros/year contract with Cervélo and signs with another team for 80,000 Euros/year then Cervélo have to pay the 20,000 Euros difference]

Nicolas RocheVN: Does the fact that your father is the UCI President cause you any problems?

AM: I do get people saying that there may be a conflict of interests, but I know that it’s not the case, so it doesn’t bother me.  I certainly get no favourable treatment from the UCI.

VN: What do you think needs to be improved in the contract system?

AM: There’s nothing in place to stop or punish for the Cervélo situation – there will be 25 riders out of a job as a result, and the bank guarantees the UCI holds are for 2010, not next year.

Riders can’t break contracts, so it’s not right that teams can.

VN: What is the best part of your job?

AM: When a completed contract is emailed to me!

There is a lot of stress associated with having your riders’ lives in your hands.

I have five guys in limbo just now, but I hope to get all of them places. Most teams still have openings but there is a lot of competition for them.
VN: And your advice to a young pro?

AM: Play golf!

Make sure you go to a team that’s going to develop you, don’t just go for the money.  When you’re a young rider you can afford to take less money, what’s more important is the team gives you the right programme and allows you to develop as a rider.

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