Pros including Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas call for Association of Professional Cyclists (CPA) election to be postponed

David Millar cannot win the riders’ union election, according to the British and Irish association, who say the result of the vote on Thursday will be invalid.

Millar has thrown his hat into the ring to be president of the Association of Professional Cyclists (CPA). He stands against incumbent Gianni Bugno on Thursday.

However, the block voting system and requirement for riders to be present to cast ballots has caused a stir in the peloton.

Chris Froome, Geraint Thomas and 25 other top cyclists from around the world have signed a protest letter, adressed to Bugno, asking to postpone the “unfair” election that they say is being “forced through.”

“As it stands, [there is] no way for Millar to win,” head of the British and Irish Professional Cyclists’ Association, Ben Greetham told Cycling Weekly.

>>> Why pro riders including Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas are protesting against their union

“At the moment, it’s about waiting for a response from the CPA,” Greetham said of the letter. “We need to see if they will finally listen to the riders. But as far as we are concerned, it won’t be a valid election.”

Former Scottish professional David Millar announced two weeks ago that he would run for president and challenge Gianni Bugno. Bugno won two world titles and the Giro d’Italia before retiring.

The voting rules drew attention once Bugno had a rival for president. Six nations vote in blocks – including Italy and France with a massive 274 votes – and the rest must have their riders present in Innsbruck, Austria, for the elections to vote.

>>> CPA president Gianni Bugno hits back at criticism from Chris Froome and other riders ahead of election

Cyclists from Great Britain, Germany and most of the international cycling peloton have said that they cannot find time or resources to visit Austria for the vote.

The vote coincides with the world championships in Innsbruck this week, but even riders competing may either already be leaving after the time trials, or not yet arrived ahead of the road race.

Critics say that those who show up will have their votes washed away by the block vote tidal wave. Nations at the board cast all their cyclists votes for one candidate or the other. Those nations include France (with 150 votes), Italy (124), Spain (86), North America (67), Switzerland (17) and Portugal (14).

Italy and France are due to vote for Bugno, and Spain is likely too. North America will vote for Millar.

“What’s going to happen Thursday? I think the CPA will push through, they have not shown any signs that they are going to listen to the riders,” Greetham said.

The rider’s letter points to an article in the CPA rules, and suggests that the vote should not go forward because the proper one-month notice period, they say, was not given.

“The CPA uses their rules and articles for voting, so they can’t pick and choose the rules they want. They could easily say let’s postpone the election at this meeting. We don’t know why he has to have this meeting right now,” said Greetham.

“Ideally, it’s no vote this Thursday, they vote to dissolve the block voting and we have a vote in 2019.”

The riders – who contribute prize money towards retirement funds – also asked to see the union’s finances and for an appointed auditor to control them.

“If the vote goes ahead for Gianni? I’m am pretty damn sure the riders will stand up and do something,” Greetham said.

“Just from what the riders have been doing and saying, the biggest names in the sport are involved and have taken the step to talk to the CPA. There’s a huge amount of ill feeling and anger.”

An inside source has reported that Bungo’s response to the letter was that any delay is “not feasible” for reasons including budget, and that CPA would examine its voting procedures after the elections.

The 27 rides who signed were:

Geraint Thomas
Chris Froome
Bernhard Eisel
Philippe Gilbert
Mathew Hayman
Jakob Fuglsang
Tony Martin
Marcel Kittel
Roman Kreuziger
Daryl Impey
Michael Valgren
Julian Alaphilippe
Wout Poels
Bauke Mollema
Greg Van Avermaet
Primoz Roglic
Steven Kruijswijk
Michael Matthews
Bob Jungels
Stefan Küng
Richie Porte
Jasper Stuyven
John Degenkolb
Rory Sutherland
Tom Dumoulin
Mikel Landa
Alejandro Valverde