UCI Vice President, David Lappartient, has told Cyclingnews he has no current plans to announce himself as a candidate for the UCI Presidency in 2017. However the Frenchman refused to rule out such a possibility with continued speculation surrounding his working relationship with current UCI President Brian Cookson.
Before heading to Qatar for this year's World Road Championships, Lappartient called a press conference at the French national velodrome near Paris, where he announced that he would not stand for a third term as the President of the French Cycling Federation. He has had the position for almost eight year, and will step aside in March next year. That would leave him with roughly six months to organise a campaign before the UCI presidential elections later that year. Cookson has already announced that he would stand for a second term after being elected in 2013.
"I had a press conference on Friday at the national velodrome to just confirm that I would stand down as President of the French Cycling Federation in March next year and not seek re-election. That's the end of my current term," Lappartient told Cyclingnews on Friday evening.
"I will be a candidate to carry on as the President of the European Cycling Union but I said nothing about the UCI. Of course, as I've always said, I'd be interested in one day becoming a candidate for the head of the UCI but some of the press have taken the wrong conclusion from what I've said. I've not said that I will be a candidate for 2017. For the moment it's not on my programme."
A difficult relationship with Cookson
For what it's worth Cookson said similar remarks before he too decided to stand for election, having previously backed Pat McQuaid.
The Englishman's relationship with Lappartient has been strained since Cookson was elected as UCI President in Florence in 2013.
The pair have disagreed over the future of the sport and the relationship between the governing body, the Tour de France organisers ASO and the WorldTour teams. Lappartient, as part of the UCI management Committee, even opposed part of Cookson’s programme over reforms and aligned himself with ASO's position of having a relegation system for teams.
In June 2015 a source within the UCI told Cyclingnews that Lappartient was already laying the foundations for a presidential challenge.
On Friday Lappartient would rule out a future challenge and made clear that there was at some level, dissent with the UCI. He wrote a letter criticising Cookson's management of the sport this summer before what was reportedly a heated Management Committee meeting.
"I have to say that I made some points at the UCI Committee in June that things need to change at the UCI. I hope that what was put on the floor will be taken seriously and that we can make an agreement," he told Cyclingnews.
"For me what's really important is what will happen in the future. I'm disappointed about some of the decisions from the UCI and I've spoken to Brian directly. There are some times when we don't agree and we have frank discussions but there's no bad relationship. I have to say that I have some more bad problems with some of the staff at the UCI. I hope the UCI can come back with a stronger voice in some areas. If that happens then we can talk about support."
When asked if he felt Cookson was a strong leader, Lappartient responded: "I don't want to enter in a discussion and I will say what I think about Brian directly to him and not the press.