McQuaid goes on the offensive before Zurich showdown

UCI President Pat McQuaid speaks to the press

UCI President Pat McQuaid speaks to the press (Image credit: AFP)

UCI President Pat McQuaid has gone on a media offensive before a vital meeting and presentation with members of the Union Européenne de Cyclisme (UEC) in Zurich on Sunday, as the days count down to the presidential election in Tuscany on Friday September 27 during the UCI road world championships.

Both McQuaid and rival candidate Brian Cookson will speak to the members of the Union Européenne de Cyclisme before they vote on their favoured candidate. The meeting could be a turning point in McQuaid's election campaign after serious doubts about his nomination and the success of his two terms as UCI president.

McQuaid has often tempted the global expansion of professional cycling but has now backed ideas to bolster European racing as he tries to sway the UEC vote in his favour.

“The UCI has a duty of care to realise cycling’s global potential but we must respect the traditions and heritage that have made our sport what it is today,” said McQuaid in a press release from his personal press office.

“The greatest races on the global stage have been fought out in Europe for generations. Europe is cycling’s heartland – or to be more precise – Europe is the beating heart of world cycling."

He also came out firmly against plans for a new Cycling Super League, using the subject to attack rival Brian Cookson.

“Creating 10 new cookie-cutter four-day races to sit alongside the one-day classics and three Grand Tours is the death-knell for cycling,” he said.

“Unlike my opponent in the UCI Presidential election I have no association with those who support such a strategy and I am very clear on where I stand on this threat to undermine the European race calendar,” he added.

The real architect of British Cycling?

On Thursday McQuaid tried to weaken Cookson's campaign by suggesting that the retired architect hopes to live in Britain if he becomes UCI president.

“It is already very clear that Brian is seeking a coronation instead of an election. Now he wants to become a ceremonial President,” said McQuaid in a press release from his personal press office.

“I appreciate that Brian has retired but the UCI can not reform its governance and management to accommodate his retirement plans or to facilitate being remunerated while keeping his feet up at home in Lancashire."

He also rejected the notion that Cookson had been behind the transformation and success of British Cycling.

“It can hardly be a mistake that the Queen chose to knight Sir Dave Brailsford as the architect of British Cycling’s success. It is certainly reassuring that I am not alone in distinguishing one architect from the other,” he said.

“Sir Dave Brailsford, National Lottery Funding and Sky’s five-year multi-million Euro agreement to become British Cycling’s principal sponsor are what has transformed British Cycling."

Cookson has so far not replied to McQuaid's provocation or proposals. The two will go head to head in Zurich on Sunday.

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Stephen Farrand
Head of News

Stephen is the most experienced member of the Cyclingnews team, having reported on professional cycling since 1994. He has been Head of News at Cyclingnews since 2022, before which he held the position of European editor since 2012 and previously worked for Reuters, Shift Active Media, and CyclingWeekly, among other publications.