Tom Van Damme, head of the Belgian Cycling Federation, has told Cyclingnews that Brian Cookson lost the UCI presidential election because of cultural differences within his presidency and because David Lappartient ran a strong campaign.
On Thursday Lappartient crushed Cookson 37-8 in the delegate vote – a result that few predicted. On the eve of the election many expected a close race but that Lappartient was just ahead.
In the end nearly all of Cookson's support from four years ago abandoned him for Lappartient. Cookson later said that delegates lied to him and that he was expecting somewhere in the region of twenty-plus votes.
"David had a better campaign," Van Damme told Cyclingnews.
"He was more active and it was better managed. I think that's the reason. Look at how David was always present and expressing himself."
Lappartient's power base came from the 15 European delegates. In March, at the UEC elections the Frenchman stacked the candidates with his own supporters, while British Cycling made a huge tactical blunder in proposing two candidates. This split their vote and meant that they had no delegates in Bergen with either voting power or an inside track into which way the vote was going. That said, Cookson was still hoping to retain some support from the European delegation.
"The result is related to the voting system at the UCI. Without making a judgement, continents are more and more behaving like a block so then you can have extremes," Van Damme said.
"In general, Brian did a good presidency but the only remark I have is that I thought in the beginning he was more dynamic than at the end. I don't know what happened. You'd have to ask him. I don't want to say bad words about him. I respect him too much for that."
Van Damme also pointed to cultural clashes within the Cookson presidency as a reason for the heavy defeat. Cyclingnews has been informed several times during the week that Cookson cleared the decks at the UCI too quickly in 2013, when he took over, and by appointing many of his own men he alienated several communication channels that had been built up over the previous two presidencies.
The role of Martin Gibbs, Cookson's Director General, caused issues for several parties both within and outside the UCI.
"That's for some people probably the reason," Van Damme said.
"There are some people, and it wasn't me, who had a problem with Martin. Maybe it could have managed in different ways but maybe it could have down to different cultures."
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Daniel Benson was the Editor in Chief at Cyclingnews.com between 2008 and 2022. Based in the UK, he joined the Cyclingnews team in 2008 as the site's first UK-based Managing Editor. In that time, he reported on over a dozen editions of the Tour de France, several World Championships, the Tour Down Under, Spring Classics, and the London 2012 Olympic Games. With the help of the excellent editorial team, he ran the coverage on Cyclingnews and has interviewed leading figures in the sport including UCI Presidents and Tour de France winners.