By Jean-François Quénet
On Saturday, February 28, the French cycling federation FFC will elect a new president among the three candidates: David Lappartient who is already deputy president, Michel Callot, president of the Rhône-Alpes regional cycling committee and former champion and team manager Cyrille Guimard.
Guimard already knows he won't be elected. "With the current elective system, I don't think I'll reach five percent of the votes," he said. Representatives of the different regions are the electors for the vote.
Also a board member of the UCI, Lappartient, 35, is the natural favourite to succeed Jean Pitallier who has been forced to step down. At the age of 76, the man who stood firm against the UCI in the past four years wanted to continue for "one or two years" but most of his collaborators at the FFC have shown him the way out. Elected after Daniel Baal in 2001, Pitallier convinced the voters to go for a second term in 2005 with the promise that he would pass the baton onto Lappartient two years later. But the conflict with the UCI gave him the opportunity to keep going.
Lappartient would nominate his predecessor as a honorary president but the outgoing is obviously bitter that Lappartient and other influential members have lobbied for a new and more modern way of governing French cycling.
"For the first time ever, this election has generated discussions and projects," Guimard emphasised. It came with the early candidacy of Callot, a former amateur rider and now human resources director in a big company, who strongly criticised the absence of reforms during Pitallier's years."
In an interview with Ouest-France newspaper this week, Pitallier justified his action with the way he managed to collect for the FFC one million euro from Tour de France organiser ASO last year in exchange to his support against the UCI.
Lappartient and Callot are rumoured to have both about 50% of the voters on their side. Pitallier predicts a very tight result and he will probably still be influential at the end of the day.