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"Change is needed" - FDJ boss says he'd back French bid for UCI presidency against Brian Cookson

Marc Madiot throws weight behind expected candidacy of French federation head David Lappartient

Marc Madiot, manager of top-flight French team FDJ and an influential voice in cycling in France, says he would back FFC (Fédération française de cyclisme) president David Lappartient should he make a widely anticipated bid against Brian Cookson for the UCI presidency later this year.

Cookson was elected to the top job at world cycling’s governing body in September 2013 following an acrimonious campaign in which he stood against Ireland’s Pat McQuaid, who had been in office since 2005.

Lappartient, a key supporter of Cookson during the campaign, became a UCI vice-president following the Briton’s election. He is also president of the European Cycling Federation.

There has been widespread criticism of Cookson’s presidency, including by Madiot over issues such as WorldTour reforms, with the FDJ boss criticising the decision to increase the number of races from this season.

Madiot, who is also the president of France’s national cycling league (Ligue nationale de cyclisme), says that any presidential bid by Lappartient would have the country’s support.

"This is the reality of cycling today, there is a problem," he told Le Parisien.

He said the recent cancellation on financial grounds of the Tour of Qatar, the 16th edition of which had been due to take place next month, showed that the UCI, which held last year’s Road World Championships in the Gulf State, was taking the sport in the wrong direction.

> Tour of Qatar cancelled despite recent promotion to UCI WorldTour

“It shows that even for Qatar, it is not necessarily plain and simple to organise a sporting event," he explained. "Whichever the country, whatever the event, at some point or another the financial aspect is in play.

“It also shows that cycling needs to fall back on its values, its strengths, with events that have been around for decades.

“And above all we must preserve and support them, because as soon as we want to go to exotic countries, it falters. That’s what happened in the Tour of Beijing,” he added, with the Chinese UCI WorldTour race – co-owned by the governing body itself – scrapped in 2014 after just four editions.

Madiot agreed that urgent changes were needed. “If we continue in the same direction, it will be at the expense of much of the calendar, and not just races in France.

“What happened with Qatar is not insignificant. We need to put a stop to the vagueness and short-term vision.”

Asked how that could be achieved, he said: “We need a real revolution, to rethink the true function of cycling. And that goes right up to the election of the president of the UCI. Change is needed.”

So, would Madiot support an expected bid for the UCI presidency from Lappartient, who has headed the FFC since 2009 but is not seeking re-election next month?

 “Sadly, I don’t have a ballot paper," he replied. "But yes, he has the support of the Ligue and of French cycling.”

Madiot was asked how the 43-year-old Lappartient, who is also active in local politics in Brittany’s Morbihan department, could hope to win the top job at the UCI.

“As in politics, you need a real programme that sets out in black and white what it intends to achieve,” he said. “That’s important.

“Good lobbying is also needed, as happens with the Olympic Games. It’s just that we, the French, are worse at it than the Anglo-Saxons.

“There’s work to be done. He’s going to have to go on the attack and deliver a knockout blow.”

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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