International representatives, after around four hours of arguments in central Florence, elected Brian Cookson as president of cycling’s governing body, the Union Cycliste Internationale. Cookson won 24 of the 42 votes and defeated rival and incumbent President, Pat McQuaid.

“The campaign to get to this point has been intense and I’m under no illusion, the real work starts now,” Cookson said. “We must embrace a new way of doing work. My first priority is to make anti-doping fully independent and to work with WADA to make a swift investigation into cycling’s doping culture.

“I’d like to thank Pat for the contribution he has made to cycling and his long career.” McQuaid replied with a brief “thank you” and “congratulations” before moving the congress on to meeting point 11.

The UCI Congress met in Palazzo Vecchio, the former seat of Italy’s government, among battle paintings by Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci. The delegates, after much debating on the process, decided that Cookson should lead cycling out of one of its most turbulent times.

They also moved against a controversial proposal by Malaysia, deciding after 21 to 21 vote that it would not discuss its implementation. The federation proposed earlier this year a new joint nomination process. After Ireland and then Switzerland refused, McQuaid appeared dependent on the duel Thai-Moroccan nomination.

Switzerland’s original move stood, though. The federation revoked its nomination too late into the process, lawyers argued. Federations argued for and against McQuaid’s candidacy for about 30 minutes afterwards.

“It’s unfortunate that the majority of this congress is dedicated to whether or not a candidate can stand,” said a Latvian representative. “We’ve just gone though a difficult period with Lance Armstrong and corruption allegations. We have to be clean, if there is one candidate that is nominated by his federation and congress, and the other is not, that would appear to be a very clear statement.”

Cookson put an end to the arguments. “We’ve had enough of this,” he said. “I propose we go to the election between to candidates.”

Applause filled famous Sala dei Cinquecento. Delegates came forward, one by one, to vote – 24 giving their confidence to Cookson and 18 to McQuaid. Applause immediately filled the air.

McQuaid, 64, replaced out-going president Hein Verbruggen in 2005. Unchallenged, he began his second term in 2009. Doping controversies marked his eight-year run. Last winter, the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) found Lance Armstrong doped his way trough his career and to seven Tour de France titles. That same investigation highlighted allegations of UCI corruption.

Cookson, president of British Cycling since 1997, announced his candidacy in June and took hold of a growing momentum for change. The 62-year-old said early this morning, “[I have] no baggage. With me, what you see is what you’d get, a committed and dedicated president. We’ve got to restore credibility in the UCI.”

Related links

Validity of Pat McQuaid’s UCI president nomination still unclear

  • ted hutton

    Why did he only just scrape in is it because the whole setup needs wiping out and

    starting again .What have the ones who voted against him got to hide. The orgonisation

    has limited progress in bike design for years and to me is suss

  • gg/gg

    Just look at McQuaids body language

  • Mike

    Great news. What we need to know now is will Verbruggen and McQuaid be brought to book over the Armstrong debacle???????

  • Ali Manners

    Oh thank god for that!! But who on earth gave McQuaid his 18 votes???Hopefully a new era can begin. Onwards and upwards.

  • Terry Hammond

    Thank heavens! Now we can make some progress.

  • philtregear

    Well done Mr Cookson. For me, this is by far and away the most important result in cycling this year. Reading events unfold in this election was like witnessing a slow motion car crash. At last, the UCI can move on and those who want to clean up the sport have a mandate to do so.

    Will Mr McQuaid now do what he promised and leave the UCI and pro cycling altogether? Let us hope so.

  • Nigel

    What a relief.
    We can now move forward in the knowledge that there
    is a credible leader at the helm.

  • John Westwell

    At last! I have no doubt that Brian Cookson will at least clean up the way the UCI does business, and that has a chance of feeding down to cycling teams and individual riders. Having worked in the public sector for may years, he’s used to transparency and public accountability. And – let’s face it – he can’t be any worse than Hein Verbruggen’s crony Pat McQuaid.