Cookson’s European backing a huge blow to McQuaid’s presidential hopes

European Cycling Union will also vote against proposed constitution change

Britain’s Brian Cookson has gained the backing of the European Cycling Union ahead of the UCI presidential vote. Photograph: Jon Buckle/PA

Britain’s Brian Cookson has gained the backing of the European Cycling Union ahead of the UCI presidential vote. Photograph: Jon Buckle/PA

Sun, Sep 15, 2013, 16:17

The contest to become the next president of the UCI took a potentially decisive step on Sunday when British candidate Brian Cookson won a significant victory over his Irish rival Pat McQuaid.

Cookson gained support from a clear majority of the national federations of the European Cycling Union (UEC) at a special meeting in Zurich, beating current UCI president McQuaid by 27 votes to 10. It is understood that the Irish federation, which has not nominated McQuaid, abstained.

It means that all 14 European delegates who will vote in the UCI election in Florence on September 27th are now mandated to vote for Cookson, who needs 22 of the 42 global votes to win.

Cookson said: “I am delighted to have received the overwhelming support of the UEC who have shown such a positive approach to the development of our sport.

“The discussions and debate we had this morning following my presentation were extremely encouraging. I would like to congratulate the UEC for their professionalism in organising today’s debate and for ensuring such a dignified environment for the presentations to take place.

“There was a real appetite for change to help restore the credibility of the UCI and I am confident of building on the support of the UEC and federations from around the world as we head into the last days of the election.”

The UEC also voted against the proposal to amend the UCI constitution retrospectively to allow any two federations to nominate a presidential candidate. If that vote is repeated at the congress in Florence it should prevent McQuaid even standing, as he has not been nominated either by Ireland or by Switzerland where he lives.

Cookson added: “I am also very pleased that the UEC has voted so strongly against amending the rules of the election retrospectively.”

The UEC confirmed that under its constitution Cookson would receive the backing of all 14 delegates in Florence.

The UEC said in a statement: “Brian Cookson, according to the article 13.1 of the statute of the European Cycling Union, will be the candidate supported by the 14 European delegates at the elective congress in Florence.”

The voting results showed overwhelming opposition to the proposal to change the UCI election process retrospectively, which would allow McQuaid to be nominated by federations other than his home ones. The vote for that showed 31 opposed the proposal with only 10 in favour.