David Millar says the 'long game' of trying to bring about change for the CPA is only beginning

FLORENCE, Italy (VN) — David Millar hopes his campaign for the presidency of the CPA might “force a change” for cyclists who feel that the riders’ union fails to represent them.

The former Scottish professional cyclist lost his bid for union president Thursday against incumbent, Italian Gianni Bugno. In the lead up, riders expressed concern of an “unfair” election and a failing union.

Millar knew going he would lose ahead of the election in Innsbruck, Austria, but hoped that the process could “raise awareness” for change.

“I was prepared to be president, but the bigger motivation was to see what would happen,” Millar told VeloNews.

“I saw the system was flawed, it’s not going to go away going through the normal process with the committee, it’ll be shut down if you propose change.

“This campaign was the only way to do it, raise awareness and force a change. You needed a big noise to force some change.”

The campaign helped highlight that the CPA is run by a handful of member associations. Mainly France, Italy, and Spain, with their large block votes, have the power to steer the union that should represent the globalized peloton.

Over the last month, cyclists took to Twitter and expressed their anger with the CPA. The comments and attacks on the CPA “bothered” Bugno.

A large group believes Bugno and the CPA union are failing in their work. A group of 27 stars — including Chris Froome (Sky), Geraint Thomas (Sky), Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing), and Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb) — penned a letter to Bugno expressing their anger at the election process.

The election rules require that riders not represented by a member association must vote in person, which is impossible for many.

“I think it’s the total disconnect between the riders and the CPA. The riders are crying for help on social media, they don’t feel the CPA is doing it for them,” Millar said.

“They got to the point where, ‘I don’t want to, can someone just do this for us. Can we have someone to look after our safety and our rights?’ They are ready to be unionized. They have a union, but it’s not where it needs to be yet.

“It’s very clear that the riders should disenfranchise from their own union. Amazingly, the union still doesn’t recognize that. The riders now realize that that’s the case, and they want the change.

“I don’t think that the peloton has ever come together and make noise like this before. It’s a good sign that this thing has legs.”

In Innsbruck, which is hosting the world championships this week, the CPA invited Millar to help the change from within. He has ideas of how it can be changed, but must take a few days to find the best direction.

“I could be the catalyst for the change from within the CPA, but I need to think if I am willing to work within the structure to their processes because I’m not sure if it’d be the most effective way,” he said.

“There are options, but I don’t know the way yet. I need to speak to the riders, if they are not interested, nothing is going to happen. I need to reach out to the riders and get an idea what their expectations are and what their willing to commit to.

“This is a long game. It’s been an intense month and it’s opened up the debate and raised awareness. Now the long game properly begins.”

The top stars appear to be ready for the long game.

“It’s time for a change,” Froome said Thursday. “It’s been a long time coming.

“There is talk of potential of a new union or trying to work with the CPA. The ball is in their court.”