Brian Cookson has been elected as the new president of the UCI. At the UCI's annual Congress today in Florence, the British candidate received the majority of votes from the 42 authorized delegates. He defeated incumbent Pat McQuaid, who has served as UCI president since 2006.
Cookson beat his rival by 24 votes to 18 in the final run off.
"It's a huge honour to be voted president and I thank you for your trust. The real work starts now. I call on the global community to unite so that the sport lives up to its potential. We must have a new style of government and a collegiate system. My first act as president is to ensure anti-doping is fully independent and to sit down with WADA," Cookson said.
"It is a huge honour to have been elected President of the UCI by my peers and I would like to thank them for the trust they have placed in me today."
"The campaign to get to this point has been intense but I am under no illusion that the real work starts now. So I call on the global cycling community to unite and come together to help ensure that our great sport realises its enormous potential. This is the vision that will drive and focus my activities over the next four years.
“I have said throughout my campaign that we must embrace a new style of governance and a collegiate way of working so that a new era of growth and commercial success for the UCI and our sport can begin."
The early part of the Congress had been dominated by discussion over the validity of McQuaid's nomination. Having lost support from both the Irish and Swiss federations he was reliant on the backing from Asia. After much deliberation Cookson took to the floor and demanded that the vote go forward between the two candidates, stating, "We've had enough of this".
Cookson announced his candidacy in early June, saying, “I am not doing this lightly as I know how much needs to be done.” He based his campaign on two issues, anti-doping and an investigation of alleged corruption within the UCI. It was a brutal campaign at times, with both sides attacking one another on various issues.
Leaves British Cycling
The news of Cookson's victory was quickly followed a press release confirming that Cookson had stepped down as the President of British Cycling, a role he had occupied since 1997.
“I am sorry to leave an organisation which I have seen make extraordinary progress over the last 16 years, but I am absolutely thrilled to be given the opportunity to bring about the changes that cycling needs worldwide.
“I know that I am moving on from British Cycling with the organisation in fantastic shape, and I am already looking forward to the challenges ahead as President of the UCI.”
Message to the UCI
Cookson wasted no time in contacting the UCI staff either. In an email sent in within an hour of the final election vote, Cookson said:
"I am writing to you shortly after my election as UCI President. As someone who has given my life to cycling, I am thrilled to have won. The campaign has been hard-fought and, if that has been particularly difficult for some of you, then that is to be regretted. I endeavoured at all times to make it an election in which the issues which cycling must confront were properly debated.
I believed that it was a battle which had to be fought, not least because there are some exceptional people working at the UCI. Unfortunately and too often, the good work has been overshadowed by controversies and unnecessary conflict.
However, right now is the best time to be involved in cycling. There are new opportunities and new markets opening up to the sport all the time - we just need to grasp them.
There is enormous potential in the sport and, I firmly believe, enormous potential within the walls of the UCI.
I look forward to working with you soon."