Former French Cycling Federation president David Lappartient has confirmed that he will stand against Brian Cookson for the role of UCI President, sparking a new power struggle for the most important political role in the sport.
Elections are due to take place on September 21 during the UCI road World Championships in Norway.
Cookson defeated Pat McQuaid in 2013 to secure his first term as UCI president but now faces a serious challenge if he wants a second four-year term. Lappartient is the current UCI vice-president and president of the European Cycling Union.
Cookson had expected to stand unopposed but Lappartient has revealed his candidacy 24 hours before the June 21 deadline. He has created a website that includes details of his five-point programme and immediately started a social media campaign. Cookson launched his six-point manifesto on June 2.
"After deep thinking and reflections I have made the decision to be a candidate for the Presidency of UCI at the September 21st Congress, in Bergen – Norway," Lappartient said in a statement on the ourpassion.org website.
"Like you, I have great passion for cycling and I want to serve our sport at the highest level. I have always voiced my concerns on the various challenges I have witnessed at UCI, and as a vice-President of the organization, I have been made aware of a number of issues that must be urgently addressed if cycling is to remain a credible sport. It is crucial that we have at UCI a President with a real leadership, who is truly engaged and with a clear vision for cycling. I have these qualities and the credentials it take to lead UCI."
Lappartient already has the support of the French Cycling Federation and is likely to secure backing from several other major European Federations who have been disappointed with Cookson management of the sport. Lappartient is expected to have the support of Tour de France organiser ASO that could spark a change in direction at the international governing body.
In a carefully worded but vague manifesto, Lappartient said his main goals are:
- Strengthening the authority of the UCI with a President ensuring real and effective leadership
- Placing the UCI at the service of National Federations
- Making cycling a sport of the 21st century
- Developing an ambitious vision for professional cycling
- Ensuring credibility of sporting results and protecting athletes
Lappartient also highlighted his leadership ability and successful track record. In a clear signal to the 45 delegates who will vote in the elections, he also suggested that as UCI president he would "put the UCI at the service of the national federations."
Cookson clashed with ASO over reforms of the WorldTour but Lappartient promised more collaboration with the various stakeholders. He also promised a strong stance against mechanical doping.
"Professional road cycling is the highlight of our sport! However, the recent reforms have unfortunately failed to meet the challenges we are facing with, in this discipline. In collaboration with the different stakeholders, I will put in place fundamental and ambitious changes to improve road cycling," he wrote in his manifesto.
"I will be relentless when it comes to guaranteeing the credibility and accuracy of race results! We must be unshakable when dealing with technological fraud, doping or the potential manipulation of results related to sports betting. It is the mission of the UCI to guarantee these core values. I will be strongly committed to my role as your leader and will make the changes we need in cycling."