The Association of Professional Cyclists (CPA) have reacted to the protest letter sent by Chris Froome and cycling’s other stars, saying “there won’t be a change” and the election for president “will go ahead” tomorrow in Innsbruck.
A group of 27 cyclists including Froome, Geraint Thomas and Greg Van Avermaet wrote to their union and its president Gianni Bugno to demand more time for a fair vote. They claim they were not informed at least a month in advance, as the CPA’s own rules require. They’ve requested a 2019 vote and a renewed election system.
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“It was an official letter from them, I read it,” Italian former professional, Bugno told Cycling Weekly. “I don’t think it’s anything, they will have their chance to vote. It’s no issue.
“There won’t be a change, the elections will go ahead. Nothing changes at all.
“There are costs to hold the meeting. We can’t just throw away money and throw it all away two days ahead of the election.”
The letter is part of a bigger wave building in the professional peloton over the voting system and the rights of professional cyclists – of whom there are around 1000 globally.
When former Scottish cyclist David Millar said earlier this September that he would run against Bugno, it further exposed the grip that France, Italy and Spain have on the union.
All professionals must pay in to the union, however, they cannot vote directly. Six member national associations vote in blocks and practically dictate the outcomes. The French association, for example, casts all of its 150 cyclists’ votes one way or the other. Italy with 124 votes and Spain with 86 do the same too.
Riders from nations without member associations with the CPA can vote individually. It must be done in person, however, and in this case, that is tomorrow in Innsbruck. The riders in the letter claim the election “is unfair and being forced through in order to guarantee” a Bugno victory.
“We did all we needed to for the rules,” said Bugno when asked about giving at least a month’s notice for the meeting tomorrow.
“If they don’t agree, they can say what want.”
The riders are having their say in social media and with the letter. British four-time Tour de France winner Froome wrote two weeks ago in Twitter, “Seems to me that the CPA is running a dictatorship, not a democracy which truly represents all the riders #fail”
Even with the uproar it appears the elections will go ahead and Bugno will win another term as president. Millar agrees that it is hard for him to win with the current block system and the inability of those other cyclists to conveniently cast their votes without being present.
“Electronic voting? They can’t just come in and demand it now. They had four years to do it,” Bugno added
“We are going to look into it [the voting procedures], for sure.
“The other nations have to make associations, that’s the fault of those who needed to make associations and vote. First let’s have the vote, then we can look at this block system.”
Ben Greetham, Chairman of the British and Irish Professional Cyclists’ Association said that they disagree with the block system of voting and decided not to become a member of the CPA. Other nations like The Netherlands and Belgium have pulled out recently.
The letter also asked for the CPA to reveal its financial statements immediately and for an auditor to control the funds.
“We will have meetings, the treasure is there. The accounts can be seen. If they think I’m stealing from them, then it’s their problem,” Bugno continued.
“The funds from the prize money, the rest, the cyclists can see the see them online.”
Bugno paused to reflect on the letter. He said the recent weeks of attacks on the CPA bother him.
“I don’t think they have it against me, but maybe there is something going on under the surface,” he added. “I don’t know.”