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Bugno takes shot at petition push, defends CPA’s role

CPA president urges newly-developing coalition to work as part of long-running riders' group.

CPA president Gianni Bugno strongly defended the legacy of the riders’ association, and issued a stinging rebuke Friday at a growing counter-movement of racers that is pressing for changes within the group.

Following an online general assembly held Monday, Bugno released a letter to members this week urging riders to work within the CPA (Cycliste Professionnel Associés) rather than support a newly formed-coalition that has the backing of more than half of the WorldTour.

“In order to avoid any misunderstanding, I kindly ask you to keep yourselves informed and not to believe the lies which are spread by individuals who do not know the facts, who are trying to discredit what we do for the riders, and who put their own interests before yours,” Bugno wrote. “If there is something that is not clear or if you have any doubts about our actions, there is no need to draw up petitions.”

The letter comes on the heels of a new organizational push among several top WorldTour riders who say they are unhappy with how the rider organization is organized and managed. Last week, VeloNews reported that 325 riders signed a petition urging key changes within the rider group, which was created in 1999 by the UCI to give riders a stronger voice within the international cycling governing body. As first reported by VeloNews, riders are working with agents and other experts in governance to press their concerns to the CPA.

“I am very disappointed about all the attacks against our association,” Bugno wrote. “There is always room for improvement, so I ask you to engage in our activities.”

Click here to read the full letter.

On Monday, riders sat in during a Zoom call during the group’s general assembly with Bugno and other CPA board members, with several riders representing the coalition also taking part. UCI president David Lappartient also participated and addressed several concerns, including questions about the CPA’s support of the UCI’s allocation of resources from the WorldTour General Fund, a move that has drawn the ire of some riders and teams.

Bugno described many of the claims outlined by the growing coalition as “fake news,” and insisted the CPA provides a unified and transparent voice for professional racers.

“We also had the opportunity to clear up some of the doubts you had following the spreading of fake news on our actions,” Bugno said. “The president of the Union Cycliste Internationale debunked the lies that have recently appeared on the media – including the rumors concerning the use of the World Tour fund – and he openly replied to your questions. I am very disappointed about all the attacks against our association.”

Representatives of the rider’s coalition did not comment Friday in response to the CPA’s latest statement.

Bugno said another online conference call will be held Monday to discuss issues and concerns about the CPA’s so-called solidarity fund. Riders retiring in 2019 saw smaller checks than was expected, only fueling confusion and frustration among the peloton.

Bugno, an ex-pro who was re-elected to a second four-year term in 2018, insisted the CPA is working for the collective interests of the riders in the peloton, and urged racers to become more involved with the group. Bugno countered criticism of the group’s transparency, and said that the CPA — which is organized via a network of national associations — is committed to its current structure.

“We have committed ourselves to promoting the creation of new national associations all over the world. It is not an easy task, but we believe that this is the best solution in order for you to be best represented by our delegates,” Bugno wrote. “Cycling is becoming more and more global – and so is the CPA, which firmly believes in the association-based model which was chosen at its foundation. I am asking for your help also for this complex project. Please help us identify the right individuals we can rely on to best protect you also at a local level.”

Bugno’s letter is the first official communication from the CPA since the new coalition of riders took shape over the past several months. Last week, CPA officials defended its role and questioned the motives of the coalition.

The CPA was founded in 1999, and gives riders an official voice within several important committees within the UCI structure. Critics say the group is out of touch with today’s peloton and that it’s too cozy with some of the sport’s key stakeholders, but Bugno insisted the group serves a valuable role for riders across the peloton.

“When I was a rider, the CPA did not exist,” Bugno said Friday. “When I say that having a trade union and defending it is essential, I do so because I know how valuable it is. I and many others who preceded you have worked hard to get to this point. The results we have achieved over the years are self-evident.”

UCI president David Lappartient participated in a group call this week with the CPA.