Two weeks after the election of Italy's Enrico Della Casa at the helm of the UEC (Union Européenne de Cyclisme), two rounds of votes weren't enough to designate the president of the ACC (Asian Cycling Confederation) by 42 national federations, some being present at the Intercontinental Hotel in Dubai, others casting their ballot online.
On both rounds, it was a 21-21 draw between incumbent president H.E. Osama Ahmed Abdullah Al Shafar from the United Arab Emirates and his Malaysian challenger Dato Amarjit Singh Gill. According to the status of the ACC, the third round came down to the toss of a coin, which went in the favour of a second term for Al Shafar. In 2017, the Emirati defeated Thailand's General Decha.
"Leading the Asian Cycling Confederation in such unprecedented times is a challenge which requires a full commitment and awareness," Al Shafar declared in a press release. "Over the last four years as ACC President, we launched a profound transformation that gave us a modern and organized image, making ACC today one of the most important, respected and recognized organizations in the Asian sport."
He emphasized the solidarity program, the grassroots activities for both men and women and the introduction of BMX and the MTB disciplines in the Asian Games.
"The Asian Cycling Confederation under my leadership will seize new opportunities to host new races in different areas of the Continent and raise them to the World Tour level," Al Shafar promised. "Attracting World Tour teams and athletes will represent a source of inspiration for our younger generations. Within these opportunities women's cycling and grassroots development will play a vital role, dedicated plans and competitions will be put in place."
The UAE Tour (February 21-27) was the first WorldTour event organized outside of Europe since the start of the pandemic last year. The Gree-Tour of Guangxi (October 14-19) is the only other WorldTour race scheduled in Asia this year as well as two other races in China on the Women's WorldTour, the Tour of Chongming Island (October 14-16, moved from May) and the one-day race Tour of Guangxi (October 19). A lot of the Asian cycling calendar remains to be rebuilt after the cancellation of most of the races.
Continental elections are fundamental ahead of the elective UCI Congress that will take place in Belgium on the occasion of the road world championships (19-26 September). Candidates are yet to declare themselves for the presidency after a four-year term of David Lappartient who seems likely to carry on.
A UCI management board member since 2017, Mr Singh, a respected lawyer in Malaysia and a strong anti-doping campaigner, follows the footsteps of his father Tan Sri Darshan Singh Gill who bid for the top post when Pat McQuaid was first elected in 2005. The presidency of the Asian confederation could have boosted his ambitions… but the coin flipped on the wrong side for him in Dubai this Monday.
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