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British Olympic Committee chair writes to all UCI delegates

Brian Cookson’s campaign to be elected president of cycling’s governing body the UCI has gained momentum with endorsements from British Olympic Association chairman Sebastian Coe, and the Canadian and New Zealand cycling federations. But incumbent president Pat McQuaid says cycling will lose its seat at the International Olympic Committee table if he is not re-elected.

Coe has written to each of the UCI confederation presidents supporting Cookson’s candidature, while the Canadian and New Zealand federations have both issued statements supporting Cookson.

The British Olympic Association said in a statement: “Brian Cookson has contributed enormously to the sport of cycling in the UK over the past 15 years, both in helping to deliver international success and growing the sport at the grassroots and community levels.

“We believe that Brian would make an excellent UCI president, provide real leadership in the international arena and help rebuild trust and credibility in the sport of cycling internationally.

“BOA chairman Seb Coe has recently written to each of the UCI confederation presidents to express the BOA’s full support for Brian’s bid to lead the UCI, and we will continue to support him all the way through to the election, where we hope he will be successful.”

"Cycling will lose IOC member"

But Pat McQuaid says cycling will not be represented in the IOC if Cookson is elected. If McQuaid is ousted he will lose the post on the IOC that he has held since 2010, and would not be automatically be replaced with another UCI delegate.

"Cycling will lose its IOC member if I am not re-elected," McQuaid told insidethegames.

"The statement [from Coe] doesn't change the fact that Brian has no influence within the IOC and no one within the cycling family is going to be fooled into thinking otherwise.

"It is no surprise that he has support from another GB entity which is where most of his support comes from and where his agenda is focused."

“Dark cloud of uncertainty and skepticism"

Canada and New Zealand think Cookson is the man for the job, though.

Cycling Canada’s open letter supporting Cookson said that there is “a dark cloud of uncertainty and skepticism surrounding cycling as a whole.”

“There is a need and a call for leadership change not only to improve the perception of cycling but to improve on governance, stakeholder relations, and further work to advance the fight on doping,” it said.

"We believe Mr. Cookson is best positioned to deliver the necessary change and will drive the kind of organisational change we feel is necessary for cycling to reach its extensive potential.  He has shown he is not willing to stand for a corrupt sport and he recognises the need for a collaborative approach with all stakeholders going forward.

"His manifesto shows he understands the issues at hand. He has the necessary experience and a proven track record in the sport of building and supporting solid growth."

Legal battles

However, Cycling Canada pointed out that the procedural wrangling over the election is distracting from the issues. “With respect to the current uncertainty over the status of nominations we do urge Mr. Cookson to focus his efforts on winning a clear mandate from the UCI Congress by delivering a compelling platform and vision instead of engaging in legal or procedural battles,” it said.

BikeNZ agreed that cycling needs structural changes and greater transparency.

“Brian Cookson will advocate for these changes and based on his success with British cycling we believe he can bring about the positive changes cycling needs,” said Richard Leggat, BikeNZ President.

The status of McQuaid’s nomination for the presidency is still uncertain after the Swiss Cycling Federation withdrew its nomination. He now needs the UCI Congress to ratify a rule change allowing any two federations to nominate a candidate so that he can be nominated by Thailand and Morocco.

Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.