There are three weeks to go until national cycle federation delegates gather in Florence to vote on who will be the next president of the UCI, the world governing body for cycling. It's a head-to-head contest between current president Pat McQuaid and British Cycling CEO Brian Cookson. Today, BikeBiz is endorsing Cookson.
This endorsement is very easy to give. Pat McQuaid has made many sport-based mistakes in his tenure as president of the UCI (and while he was vice president, such as removing the kilo as an Olympic event, which BikeBiz opposed, travelling to Aigle, Switzerland to deliver an 11,000 name petition) but, as the industry magazine, our complaint with McQuaid is commercial. McQuaid has paid too little attention to the bicycle builders and parts suppliers which power the sport of cycling. His labelling process for bikes - and parts such as wheels - was rushed-through with little involvement from manufacturers.
There have been many other costly mistakes while McQuaid has been at the helm of the world governing body for cycling and it's time for change. BikeBiz is far from alone in this endorsement for Brian Cookson, the man who turned British Cycling into a world-beater. He has received personal endorsements from riders such as Sir Chris Hoy and David Millar, and critically, endorsements from national cycling federations, the bodies which will decide who becomes the next UCI president.
McQuaid got but then lost the nomination to be UCI president from Cycling Ireland, his home federation. He has been embroiled in court case after court case, many of which he initiated.
The list of those endorsing Cookson - and very much rejecting McQuaid - is long.
Klaus Mueller, President, Cycling Australia
“After meeting with Mr Cookson this weekend, where he detailed his vision to rebuild trust in the UCI and grow cycling worldwide, my board has carefully considered the options before it and decided that Brian Cookson is the best candidate to restore both the sport’s, and the UCI’s, credibility.
“We are confident that he is genuinely committed to developing the sport worldwide and can deliver on his objectives to help grow the sport in Australia and Oceania. His commitment to introduce reforms to address the sport’s governance and anti-doping challenges were critical in our considerations.
“We believe that the leadership skills that he has demonstrated so effectively at British Cycling will be transferred to the UCI for the good of cycling on a global level.”
Richard Leggat, BikeNZ President
“The board of BikeNZ has announced its intention to endorse Brian Cookson for President of the UCI. BikeNZ believes the UCI needs structural changes in the way it is governed and in the battle against doping. It also needs to become a more transparent organisation that can regain the trust of the cycling community and wider public. Brian Cookson will advocate for these changes and based on his success with British Cycling we believe he can bring about the positive changes cycling needs.”
John Tolkamp, President of Cycling Canada
“We believe Mr. Cookson is best positioned to deliver the necessary change and will drive the kind of organisational change we feel is necessary for cycling to reach its extensive potential. He has shown he is not willing to stand for a corrupt sport and he recognises the need for a collaborative approach with all stakeholders going forward.
“His manifesto shows he understands the issues at hand, not the least of which includes bringing the hearts and minds of cyclists back to the sport. He has the necessary experience and a proven track record in the sport of building and supporting solid growth and it is evident he has the respect of key stakeholders.”
Igor Makarov, UCI Management Committee, President, Russian Cycling Federation
“We must think about the future of cycling around the world, which under the current management was almost withdrawn from the Olympic Games. Cycling needs a man whose personal ambitions come after the interests of this great sport and its members and it is my opinion that this man is Brian Cookson.”
Michel Thioub, Technical Director Senegalese Cycling Federation and African Cycling Confederation, Director Tour of Senegal and former member of African Cycling Confederation Management Committee
“Brian has practically devoted his life to cycling and his greatest desire to is to see clean cycling, above suspicion at all levels
“I am sure that once he becomes President, Brian will have a critical eye whilst remaining objective.
“I am also persuaded that he is capable of leading the peloton to a bright future.”
Sir Dave Brailsford
"I've worked closely with Brian for over a decade and seen firsthand how his leadership and support has helped transform cycling in Britain. His knowledge skills and integrity will enable him to make a significant contribution to the sport at a global level in the role of UCI President."
Greg Lemond, 3x winner Tour de France
“I have met and spent some time discussing with Brian about where cycling lost its way, how it lost its way, and what to do to bring the sport back to where it is not only a sport that leads by example, but a sport that inspires people once again. “I feel confident after meeting Brian that his interest is to bring honest and transparent leadership to a sport that so desperately needs it. My hope is Brian will be the one to bring all interested parties together to once and for all do what needed to be done years before, find solutions, both short term and long term, and to make it a priority that cycling comes first. “The choice between Pat McQuaid and Brian Cookson is, I believe a clear one: only Brian can deliver the change cycling needs.”
Sir Chris Hoy, Track Cyclist and six time Olympic Champion
"Brian Cookson has put his hat in the ring and I think he would be a fantastic president for the UCI. Brian is a cyclist himself, he's very passionate about listening to the riders, listening to their views and improving all areas that can be improved.
"I think we've come to the end of an era that we're glad to see the back of in the sport, but it's not entirely over and a lot of work needs to be done to make cycling the way we want it to be, and I think Brian is the right person to make those changes."
David Millar, Professional Cyclist, Garmin-Sharp, UCI ProTeam
"Professional cycling is much healthier now than when I started. Much of that can be attributed to decisions made by individual stakeholders, riders or teams like my own, Garmin-Sharp. “Now is a time for us to look to the future, in order to do that we need a new UCI President who isn't associated with the past, we have to move on to really restore credibility. “Brian Cookson has the qualities of integrity and fairness which I know will enable him to make the right decisions for our sport. “There are so many riders who want a change in leadership and to feel they are properly supported by the UCI. We would like to trust our international governing body to be looking after our best interests in a coherent and transparent manner and in a way that allows us to have a voice when it comes to the design of our sport."
Jonathan Vaughters, Team Manager Garmin-Sharp, UCI ProTeam Member Professional Cycling Council
“Brian has my wholehearted support. The biggest thing I like about him is he listens, he considers and then he gets things done without getting into conflict with people. We haven’t had that kind of approach by the UCI leadership for a long time, but it is exactly what is needed if we are to restore people’s trust in the sport. He is a straight forward, honest, talented guy - qualities that the UCI leadership desperately needs right now.”
Steven de Jongh, Directeur Sportif, Team Saxo-Tinkof, UCI ProTeam
“With the sport being where it is now it’s time for a change, cycling needs leadership that isn't linked to the past. To really move on we have to have a new president and I believe Brian has the qualities of a trusted leader, he has my full support.”
Dame Sarah Storey, 11x Paralympic champion
"I couldn't have been more delighted to hear Brian Cookson was running for presidency of the UCI, he is the obvious choice to lead cycling into a much needed bright and credible future.
“Brian's success as British Cycling President speaks for itself, he is the trusted and highly regarded figure the UCI needs right now.
“Cyclists, support staff and fans of our sport deserve to be led by a strong, fair and approachable person and this is what Brian can provide."
Jeremiah Bishop, professional cyclist with Team Sho-Air/Cannondale USADA Athlete Ambassador
“We need a change at the top of the UCI, I’m backing Brian because I believe he genuinely believes in the need for a clean sport and will do what it takes to repair the tremendous damage past mistakes have caused.
"The future of cycling is brighter than ever because of people brave enough to take a stand for what is right and now we need leadership that charts the course for the next generation of riders!”
Kristy Scrymgeour, Owner and Team Manager Specialized Lululemon, UCI Women’s Team
“There is a lot of momentum behind women’s cycling around the world right now and some great ideas for positive change. In order for it to really grow and to assist that change, we need a significant shift in the way it is perceived.
“A change in leadership at the UCI will be a step in the right direction and the commitment from Brian to televise the Women’s World Cup Series is the perfect way to start. We look forward to the potential that can come from a governing body that is open to treating Women’s cycling as a professional sport.”
"Sharp has been a proud sponsor of cycling for the past 4 years, and is committed to supporting an ethical and sustainable future for the world's most beautiful sport.
“This is why we chose to work with the Slipstream team. As a sponsor, we want to see cycling truly reach its potential.
“For that to happen, it is vital that the governance of the sport as a whole is credible and transparent.
“Based on his campaign and manifesto, we believe that Brian Cookson is the right person to deliver this, and give fans, teams and investors the sport they deserve."
Kevin Vermaek, Race founder of Absa Cape Epic mountain bike race, South Africa
“Recent events illustrate that radical change within the UCI is overdue.From personal experience, Brian is an individual that will listen to those that can make a contribution to progressive change for the good of global cycling.
“His track record at British Cycling indicates that he can lead an organisation to achieve great things. So it seems logical that he is indeed the most suitable candidate to lead the UCI into a new era.”
Dirk Friel, Co-Founder, TrainingPeaks
"It’s vitally important to a company such as ours who are heavily involved in cycling that we have leadership at the top of the sport that has integrity and is trusted.
“The sport will really benefit from Brian Cookson’s steady, professional leadership and vision of bringing cycling into the modern age.”
OLYMPIC & PARALYMPIC
British Olympic Association
“Brian Cookson has contributed enormously to the sport of cycling in the UK over the past 15 years, both in helping to deliver international success and growing the sport at the grassroots and community levels.
“He has represented the sport as a member of the British Olympic Association National Olympic Committee since 1997 and has always shown great knowledge, professionalism, openness and commitment to the Olympic Movement. “We believe that Brian would make an excellent UCI President, provide real leadership in the international arena and help rebuild trust and credibility in the sport of cycling internationally. “BOA Chairman Seb Coe has recently written to each of the UCI Confederation Presidents to express the BOA’s full support for Brian’s bid to lead the UCI, and we will continue to support him all the way through to the election where we hope he will be successful.”
Tim Reddish, Chairman, British Paralympic Association
"The BPA is delighted to add its backing to Brian Cookson in his bid to become UCI President.
“Brian has shown his leadership qualities over many years as Chairman of British Cycling and has given his support to the development of Paralympic sport.
“We know he is a man of integrity and vision and we wish him well in the forthcoming vote."
Mike Taylor, the architect who designed the London Olympic Velodrome
"You have to respect the way Brian has quietly and professionally gone about his business at British Cycling helping propel the sport to phenomenal success for the elite GB riders on the world stage and at the same time overseeing a massive increase in grass roots interest and participation. He has done all this in a calm and focused fashion without constantly finding himself in the limelight. Surely he is exactly the right man to lead the UCI at this challenging moment in their history?”
SENIOR FIGURES IN CYCLING
Jean Pitallier, Former President of the French Cycling Federation
"For the dignity of the sport of cycling, it is time to turn the page and bring about a healthy change for international cycling. "Brian Cookson has presided over great things at British Cycling and has my full and total support to become the next President of the UCI.”
Wojciech Walkiewicz, Former President European Cycling Union and Former President Polish Cycling Federation
"I know Brian well from our work together at the European Cycling Union. He has a wonderful record and I believe he has the qualities of integrity and honesty that are essential if we are to restore people's trust in our great sport."
Daniel Baal, Former President of the French Cycling Federation
“Brian has my full support in his efforts to become President of the UCI.
“I wish him every success. Cycling, this beautiful sport, requires democratic governance, efficiency and to be fair and respectful.
“I count on him, a man of dignity, to restore the sport to its rightful place, a sport in which we have invested such emotion and effort.
“Cycling has the right to be respected, and for that, we need a president who himself deserves respect.”