Cycling Australia has publicly given its backing to Brian Cookson’s bid for the presidency of the UCI. Meanwhile the Union Européenne de Cyclisme (UEC) is to hold a special congress in Zurich on 15 Spetmeber at which Cookson and his rival in the election, UCI preident Pat McQuaid, will present their manifestos to delegates.
British Cycling president Cookson was in Sydney this weekend, where he made a presentation to the Australian national governing body’s board.
While Team GB and Australia’s national team, nicknamed the Cyclones, are the fiercest of rivals on the track, there appears to be a meeting of minds between the two federations in how to take the sport forward.
Cycling Australia’s president, Klaus Mueller, who announced in recent days that he would be stepping down from his position, said: “After meeting with Mr Cookson this weekend, where he detailed his vision to rebuild trust in the UCI and grow cycling worldwide, my board has carefully considered the options before it and decided that 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.”
Regarding the proposed rule changes to the UCI constitution that would allow a candidate for the presidency to be nominated by any two national federations, and which if adopted in full could be applied retroactively, Mueller said: “Even if those changes are legal it is entirely unsatisfactory in any democratic process and it lacks openness, transparency and integrity. Cycling Australia will not be supporting this motion at the UCI General Congress.”
Cycling Australia is a member of the Oceanian Cycling Confederation, which will have three of the 42 votes at the election, to be held during the UCI Congress in Florence on September 27, coinciding with the road world championships.
In response to the federation getting behind his bid, Cookson said: “I am delighted to have the backing of Cycling Australia, who have shown such a positive approach to the development of our sport.
“We have had very productive discussions over recent days and I have listened carefully to their views on the UCI, cycling in Australia and international development.
“We share a real commitment to restoring the credibility of the UCI and strengthening cycling globally. I am confident of building on this expression of support in the coming weeks as I meet with federations and voting delegates across the world.”
In terms of voting power at the election, Europe is the largest confederation, with 14 of the 42 votes, one third of the total, and the special session of the UEC therefore presents an opportunity for Cookson and McQuaid to state their case to key delegates.
Cookson said: “I would like to thank the UEC for arranging this special congress and providing the opportunity to present directly to voting delegates.
"This special congress represents another important milestone in the election process and I am delighted that I will be able to set out my vision for the future of the UCI and the sport of cycling in this forum.
"As we approach the last weeks before the UCI Congress and the final vote, it is important that we have open and transparent procedures in line with the agreed rules of the contest. This decision by the UEC is in line with that aim."
Current UCI president McQuaid has had his nomination to stand for a third term vetoed by members of Cycling Ireland, and last week Swiss Cycling withdrew its own nomination of him.
He insists that separate nominations by the Thai and Moroccan federations were made before the deadline of 29 June, and that as he is a member of those organisations, those endorsements do not conflict with the UCI consistition.
However, those nominations were not made public until four weeks later, at the same time the UCI revealed the proposed rule change tabled by the Malaysian federation and also backed by the governing body for Asia.
That has led to allegations from Cookson and others that McQuaid is seeking to manipulate the electoral process through retrospective rule changes.
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.