FDJ team manager Marc Madiot has backed David Lappartient as a future UCI president, confirming that the Ligue Nationale de Cyclisme (the French Professional Cycling League), will also support Lappartient if he decides to stand against Brian Cookson in the September UCI elections.
Speaking to French newspaper Le Parisien after the recent presentation of the Paris-Nice route, Madiot called for an end to a short-term vision for the sport. Madiot has often criticised the way Cookson and the UCI management run the sport in his blog on Cyclingnews.
Lappartient is UCI vice-president, the president of the European Cycling Union, and has confirmed he will not stand for re-election as president of the French Cycling Federation. He has not yet thrown his hat in the ring for the role of UCI president but is widely expected to challenge Cookson after clashing several times, most recently over WorldTour reforms.
A change in president would represent a shift in direction in the running of the sport, with France returning to a dominant position thanks to Lappartient and Tour de France organiser ASO. Several key European federations have shown signs they are losing faith in Cookson as his first four-year team comes to an end, and may support Lappartient.
"We need a true revolution, an overhaul of the overall function of cycling. And that goes via the election of the new president of the UCI. Change is needed," Le Parisien reports Madiot as saying.
"If we continue with the same line, it'll be costly for a good part of the calendar in the coming years and not only for French races. What happened with Qatar is not insignificant," he said referring to the cancelation of this year's Tour of Qatar, despite it being made part of the 2017 WorldTour.
"Unfortunately I don't have a vote but yes he [Lappartient] has the support of the Ligue and of French cycling."
Madiot called on Lappartient to be more aggressive and persuasive if he decides to run for UCI president.
"He's got to do like they do in politics and have a real programme, written in black and white, with what is achievable. That's important," Madiot said.
"Good lobbying is also important, as has been done for the Olympics. The French aren't as good as the Anglo-Saxons at that. He's got to work hard. He's got to go on the offensive and land some blows."
In defence of historic races
Madiot has always defended French cycling as head of the LNC and used the demise of the Tour of Qatar, which was organised by Eddy Merckx with technical support from Tour de France organiser ASO, to highlight the difficulties that European races face.
"The loss of the Tour of Qatar shows that it is not easy to organise events. Whatever the country, whatever kind of event, sooner or later the financial aspect coms into play," Madiot argued.
"It proves that cycling has to be built on its values, its strengths, with races that exist for decades. And they have to be preserved and supported. When you go to exotic countries things can stop quickly. That was the case with the Tour of Beijing."