Gianni Bugno, the head of the Cyclistes Professionels Associés (CPA), the International Cyclists' Association, has said the clash between the UCI and the Change Cycling Now group could be good for the sport if it leads to a new start and sows the seeds for the future.
Bugno reportedly spoke to the UCI on Friday and was in London on Monday to speak to Greg LeMond and other members of the Change Cycling Now group. Bugno has been president of the CPA since 2009, combining the role with his job as a helicopter pilot.
Riders have often failed to unite and take a stand against doping and other problems that impact them directly. However, Bugno hopes the riders can now understand that they have a central role to play in the future of cycling.
Bugno raced against LeMond in the late eighties and early nineties. He won the 1990 Giro d'Italia, leading the race from start to finish and was world champion in 1991 and 1992.
"It was nice to see him after 20 years, with grey hair, something I haven't got," Bugno told Gazzetta dello Sport.
"LeMond's group is the most radical. There's nothing grey, it's black against white, they're totally challenging the UCI. LeMond was aggressive too but I liked how he presented things. His group has some good ideas. But now it's up to the riders to decide things."
The UCI has yet to respond to the Change Cycling Now group's call for Pat McQuaid to resign as president and their 'Charter of the Willing' preferring to organise their own consultancy project with riders, teams, race organisers, national federations, administrators, sponsors, industry representatives, anti-doping organisations and sports bodies. The UCI has held talks with race organisers, rider and team representatives in recent days in Switzerland.
Bugno has listened to both parties and now hopes the riders will take a stand.
"Such a strong position isn't a bad thing for cycling. In fact the clash can mark a new start, sow the seeds for growth and improve things," he said.
"That's why I want to speak to the riders and hear what they have to say. I want to hold a new assembly. It's time for us to make decisions. We're the leading actors in all of this but at the end of the day, we're the ones who always pay the highest price."
Bugno told Cyclingnews that he will consult with senior riders in the peloton in January, when the ideas of the UCI stakeholders review and the Change Cycling Now group are clearer.
"The important thing was to be present at meeting with the UCI and the CCN to understand their ideas. It's good that there's competition between the two groups, that will lead to improvement," Bugno told Cyclingnews.
"I think the riders have understood that the sport has to change. Now its up to them to decide what they want to do and say. We just want that cycling makes a new start, leaving the past behind to focus on the future. The riders have to understand and decide the future they want."
"The riders will be informed of what as said at the two meetings by a me in a statement. After Christmas we'll meet up at training camps or races where there are some big name riders."
Bugno warned the riders about being complacent, urging them to get involved in the politics of their sport.
"I know that one of the big problems is that the riders rarely take an active role in the politics and running of their sport," he said. "I want to try and get them more involved but if they don't then they'll have to accept the consequences."
Truth and Reconciliation Commission
In an interview in l'Equipe, former Cofidis team manger Erik Boyer praised Bugno for attending the Change Cycling Now meeting. The Frenchman was supportive of the proposal to create a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, with an amnesty for those who confessed their doping sins. He called on Bugno to also appear in front of any commission.
Bugno refused to reply to Boyer's suggestion because his role of president of the CPA.
"They talk about an amnesty but we've still got to see how it'd be done. A proposal is one thing, actually doing it is something else. It wasn't very clear exactly how they want to do it," Bugno told Cyclingnews.
"If it was up to me, then I could perhaps decide if it happens. I could make a personal decision and decide whether to be on one side or another of the argument. But when you represent the riders, you can't take a personal position. I've got to understand what the riders what and how they want to respond. I can make a proposal but they're the ones who've got to decide."