David Millar to run for CPA president

'The time has come to modernise and reform it,' says Briton of pro riders' union

David Millar will run for the presidency of the Cyclistes Professionels Associés (CPA), the union for pro riders, challenging the incumbent Gianni Bugno in a vote during the World Championships later this month.

The CPA was established in 1999 and exists to represent the interests of riders and give them a voice in how the sport is run, in particular regarding safety and financial concerns.

Bugno took over in 2010 when Cedric Vasseur resigned, and was re-elected at the end of 2014 to take on a second four-year term. The Italian has already stated his desire to serve a third term.

For the first time, however, he will face a challenger, after Millar announced his candidacy on Thursday, unveiling a website, manifesto, and hashtag - #MillarforCPA. The Briton raced professionally from 1997 to 2014, winning stages in all three Grand Tours, but was banned for doping in 2004 after being arrested in France. He famously quit the 2002 Vuelta a España in protest at having to race in dangerous conditions, stopping just shy of the finish line atop the Angliru before removing his race number and turning away.

Since retiring he has primarily worked as a television commentator - as well as launching a clothing line and working as a mentor with British Cycling - but has also collaborated with the CPA as a representative, primarily on issues of safety.

"The reason I'm doing this is because I believe the most important thing about professional bike racing is the professional bike racer," said Millar, who claimed he was 'let down' by the sport and has been committed to its betterment since coming back from his ban. "I know the politics, I understand the commercials - I have made the biggest mistakes and learnt the greatest lessons. Professional cyclists today are living in arguably the most precarious employment situation the sport has ever known. In the minds of the powers that be they are bettering the sport through reduction, yet there is no evidence of refinement.

"I want to make the peloton the most solid and respected part of professional cycling, because it's the racers that matter, and you deserve to be treated as such and looked after and protected and, above all, educated not only for now, but for the rest of your life. I believe that we can be strong, gentle and generous, it's why I fell in love with professional cycling."

In recent years the CPA has helped to deliver change in the form of the introduction of the Extreme Weather Protocol and an increase in the minimum wage for pro riders. However, they have also faced criticism, with accusations of ineffectuality and a lack of diversity. Many saw the tussle with the UCI over disc brakes, revealed by Cyclingnews last year, as evidence of the former, with Chris Froome claiming at the time that "they've not represented the peloton's views properly".

In June, the Dutch pro riders' association (VVWB) quit the CPA, stating: "To the present day, three primary European cycling countries control the politics of the CPA, and the VVWB feels this isn't a true reflection of the men's professional 'peloton' in the year 2018."

On Thursday, Millar unveiled a four-point manifesto, arguing the CPA should be 'more professional', 'more active', 'more representative', and 'more vocal'. "The time has come to modernise and reform it and to put the interest of all pro cyclists at its heart," he said.

He envisages "a modern and professional riders union modelled on the best pro athletes' unions in the world" where "riders will be part of the process to decide the rules of their sport, how it grows and how it is structured". He states his intention to modify the 'Joint Agreement' with teams to make riders "directly involved" in the process, while also improving external communications. Finally, he hopes to change the way the CPA is financed - it currently receives a small percentage of the prize money for professional races - "in order to build a professional team of staff that can support the riders every day."

The election will take place at the CPA's General Assembly scheduled to take place in Innsbruck later this month at the UCI Road World Championships.

Yet Millar admitted he does not understand exactly how the vote will work, and has launched a petition to change the voting process, allowing all pro riders to vote, rather than just collective member associations.

"We do not yet know [how the vote works] because the CPA has not yet stated the rules for an election. In the past the CPA elected presidents by votes only from the member associations. The CPA has never had an election with more than one candidate," he said. 

"We agree with riders who demand an electronic ballot so every member of the pro peloton can vote, regardless of nationality, and regardless of whether he attends the Worlds at Innsbruck."

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