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Guimard aims for French presidency

By Jean-François Quénet in Varese, Italy

One of cycling's most famous directeur sportifs, Cyrille Guimard, will make a bid for becoming the next French Cycling Federation (FFC) president. The election is due to take place next March in Paris, France.

Guimard is currently Continental team Roubaix-Lille-Métropole's team manager, a position he took after returning to amateur cycling in 2003. The Frenchman's fame came from his time as a directeur sportif for Renault-Gitane (1976 to 1985), Système U (1986 to 1989), Castorama (1990 to 1995) and Cofidis (1997).

Throughout his time at the top of world cycling Guimard directed the careers of Bernard Hinault, Laurent Fignon, Greg LeMond, Charly Mottet and Marc Madiot. During his career Guimard has led riders to seven Tour de France wins, including Lucien van Impe (1976), Hinault (1978, 79, 81, 82) and Fignon (1983, 84).

Close to the grass roots of cycling, Guimard presents himself as an alternative to the two major troubles faced by the FFC: an important debt following the money paid due to a lack of information about insurance to former track cyclist Patrice Sulpice who was paralysed at the World Championships in Columbia in 1995, and the relationships with the International Cycling Union (UCI).

Current president Jean Pitallier faces a disciplinary commission during this week's meetings in Varese, Italy. The action has come after Pitallier positioned the FFC on the side of Tour de France organiser Amaury Sports Organisation against the will of the UCI.

Guimard, 61, is expected in Varese for meetings with members of the board of the UCI. He also has connections with the French government for settling the debts, but the race for presidency could be a difficult one. He'll have to be elected by the regions whose delegates are used to work with the same people and could be cautious of Guimard's strong personality and ability to point out the flows of the current governing body of French cycling.

Vice-president David Lappartient was scheduled to succeed Pitallier, who is believed to be considering a third term at 72 years of age, but hasn't made it public yet. Rhônes-Alpes region president Marc Callot, a professor of economics, is also rumoured to be in contention, but he was not elected on Pitallier's board at the FFC four years ago and it remains a difficult task for new faces to enter the fray.

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