UCI presidency candidate Brian Cookson has today published evidence of the growing support he is receiving from national federations, teams, riders and other influential figures and organisations as the clock ticks towards the vote in Florence in three weeks’ time.
The endorsements come from the UK and beyond, and themes running through the statements include Cookson’s track record in leadership at British Cycling, the increased transparency he hopes to bring to the global governing body, and that in a head to head battle with incumbent president Pat McQuaid, Cookson appears to be the clear choice.
His campaign to be elected president of cycling’s governing body has gained momentum in recent days, even as McQuaid says that if he fails to be re-elected, cycling will have no representation in the IOC and procedural wrangling over the status of the existing president's own nomination.
On publishing his endorsements, Cookson said: “I am honoured to have received so much support from people passionate about cycling from across the world. I have been encouraged every day of the campaign by the number of people - some of them national federation presidents, some of them ordinary cycling fans - who have emailed, texted, written or simply approached me in person to offer their encouragement.
"On my recent travels I have been particularly struck by the support expressed to me by cycling fans and it has really motivated me to know so many people who love cycling are behind me.
"There does appear to be a real and growing appetite for change to the leadership of the UCI and I am grateful for all those who have sent me messages of support and endorsement which I intend to build on all the way through to the vote on September 27.
"I have a sense of a growing momentum within the cycling family for our pledge to restore trust and lead change in the UCI."
National Federations lending their support include those of Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Russia and Senegal.
Michel Thioub, Technical Director Senegalese Cycling Federation and African Cycling Confederation, Director Tour of Senegal and former member of African Cycling Confederation Management Committee said: “Brian has practically devoted his life to cycling and his greatest desire to is to see clean cycling, above suspicion at all levels
“I am sure that once he becomes President, Brian will have a critical eye whilst remaining objective.”
Richard Leggat, BikeNZ President, said: “BikeNZ believes the UCI needs structural changes in the way it is governed and in the battle against doping. It also needs to become a more transparent organisation that can regain the trust of the cycling community and wider public.”
Klaus Mueller, President, Cycling Australia echoed those statements, saying: “Brian Cookson is the best candidate to restore both the sport’s, and the UCI’s, credibility.
“We are confident that he is genuinely committed to developing the sport worldwide and can deliver on his objectives to help grow the sport in Australia and Oceania. His commitment to introduce reforms to address the sport’s governance and anti-doping challenges were critical in our considerations.
“We believe that the leadership skills that he has demonstrated so effectively at British Cycling will be transferred to the UCI for the good of cycling on a global level.”
Praise comes from teams and riders too, with Dave Brailsford speaking of Cookson’s “integrity,” Greg LeMond applauding his “honest and transparent leadership” at British Cycling, as well as a commendation from Sir Chris Hoy reading: "I think we've come to the end of an era that we're glad to see the back of in the sport, but it's not entirely over and a lot of work needs to be done to make cycling the way we want it to be, and I think Brian is the right person to make those changes."
A team sponsor, Sharp, also made it clear that it felt Cookson to be the candidate most likely to restore trust to the sport.
A statement read: "Sharp has been a proud sponsor of cycling for the past 4 years, and is committed to supporting an ethical and sustainable future for the world's most beautiful sport.
“It is vital that the governance of the sport as a whole is credible and transparent.
“Based on his campaign and manifesto, we believe that Brian Cookson is the right person to deliver this, and give fans, teams and investors the sport they deserve."
With recognition from both the British Olympic Association and the British Paralympic Association, and with only three weeks to go before 42 delegates gather in Florence to vote on the direction the UCI takes over the next five years, in the last push for support it’s clear that a large swath of the cycling community is rooting for Cookson.
Brian Cookson’s manifesto for his presidency of the UCI can be read in full here.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.