The members of the Union Européenne de Cyclisme (UEC) have voted 27-10 to back Brian Cookson as the next UCI president.
In a secret vote held at an exceptional general assembly in Zurich on Sunday morning, 41 delegates voted, with Cookson securing an important majority.
As a consequence the UEC has mandated their 14 delegates at the UCI Congress to vote for Cookson at the UCI elections in Florence on September 27. However the vote at the UCI Congress is a secret vote. A total of 42 delegates vote in UCI presidential elections, with a simple majority enough to win the election.
Early in the meeting, the representatives of different European national cycling federations also voted against supporting the proposal by the Morocco and the Asian Cycling Confederation to allow a presidential candidate to be nominated by any two federations, rather than the federation of the candidate.
With Pat McQuaid struggling to defend his nomination, the weight of the 14 UEC votes could play a major role if McQuaid can legally stand for a third term. The vote on constitutional change will be made at the UCI Congress in Florence before the election of a president.
McQuaid quickly left the meeting but insisted he is still confident of being elected for a third term.
"I've got a valid nomination and I'll be running for president. The elections is in two weeks and there's a lot of work to be done," he said.
"I'm confident I'll have a majority due to the feedback I've had from delegates and confederations."
Cookson was congratulated by many of the European national federation presidents who voted for him.
"This is a vital vote, it's 14 votes secured," he said.
"There's still a long way to go and I've been speaking to people all around the world. I'm confident that things are not quite as solid (for Pat) as he might believe. We'll see."
"I think people liked what I had to say. I'm trying to raise the tone of this election and hopefully the next ten days can be more positive in spirit. I think the candidates need to focus on the issues and not on personal aspects."
During the general assembly, both incumbent president Pat McQuaid and rival candidate Brian Cookson gave speeches, laying out their plans and proposals for the future of cycling.
Cookson revealed that if McQuaid's candidature was ruled unconstitutional, he would only agree to become president if he secured a majority vote.
Both candidates promised to work to restore the credibility of cycling after the many doping scandals. They both said they would develop women's cycling, defend cycling at the Olympics and fight any plans for a commercially run WorldTour system.
Cookson denied McQuaid's recent suggestion that he will work from Britain rather than living in Switzerland, while McQuaid asked for a third term to finish off the work he has done as UCI president.