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Froome, top stars take aim at controversial union election

Chris Froome and other top riders clamor for an election that allows each vote to be counted and won't require travel to Austria.

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FLORENCE, Italy (VN) — A controversial cycling union election will be held next week, wedged between the events at the UCI World Road Championships in Innsbruck.

Chris Froome (Sky) and other cycling stars already voiced their displeasure with the presidential election process of the Association of Professional Cyclists (CPA). Riders either must travel to the Austrian city to vote in person or in the case of some countries, including the U.S., have their vote counted in a block ballot.

“Do I think Froome and the others will come? I don’t know,” current president Gianni Bugno told VeloNews. “They are welcome. I know that if they do come, they will vote for David Millar.”

Bugno has presided over the CPA since 2010. The organization has pushed through rules to make the final kilometers of sprint stages safer for GC riders, regulations for disc brake usage, and guidelines for extreme weather.

Former Scottish professional David Millar earlier this September said that he would run against Bugno, the Italian ex-world champion and Giro d’Italia winner who had expected to go unchallenged for another term. Both welcome the rivalry, but the union’s board setup and voting procedures are hard for many to swallow.

Froome and other cyclists who are part of nations without one of the six seats on the CPA’s board — around 65 percent of the peloton — cast their votes individually. However, that must take place in person. And it is impossible for many to travel around the world for a vote.

Another issue for some is that Portugal, Spain, France, Switzerland, Italy, Belgium, and the North American group ANAPRC cast their votes in blocks. Italy, for example, will either place all of its cyclists’ votes for Bugno or Millar. Ahead of Millar’s candidacy, the Italian association reportedly already told its 124 cyclists that it would cast their votes for Bugno.

British four-time Tour de France winner Froome wrote on Twitter: “Seems to me that the CPA is running a dictatorship, not a democracy which truly represents all the riders #fail”

Geraint Thomas, British and this year’s Tour winner, said, “Every rider must have the right to vote, no matter their nationality or location. That means we get to decide who represents us.”

Irishman Sam Bennett (Bora-Hansgrohe) wrote, “It’s time for change: we deserve a democratic vote. Please @cpacycling a general meeting is required in Innsbruck, not a rigged election. Electronic voting is the only way all our votes can be counted.”

Froome’s comments in particular “bothered” Bugno.

“I’m happy for the challenge, but we shouldn’t put the CPA or how it works in bad light. I’m asking that to Froome. Don’t put the CPA in doubt,” Bugno continued.

“I don’t have his email, his number, he’s a ghost for me. I have to go through his team. If someone wants to get me, it’s easy, my number is available.

“I appreciate his criticism, but not when he attacks the CPA when he doesn’t know about it.”

Bugno, who goes unpaid besides reimbursement for expenses, explained that “nothing has been done to change the election system” and recognized it is too late to change things now before Thursday’s vote.

“Froome needs to understand that we always stood by the rider’s side. If there’s a discussion about the voting method, it’s not the CPA’s fault,” Bugno added.

“These are the rules of the UCI. An electric system of voting could work, but that can be compromised. So, until there’s another system, I need to respect the voting rules how they are.”

Bugno explained that like North America with its 67 votes, the British and Irish association had a chance to join the board.

Contacted by VeloNews, 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 partake in protest.

“It’s unacceptable,” Greetham said. “We believe the votes should be carried out by the individual riders.”

To try to sway the vote, which is expected to produce another Bugno presidency, some riders are traveling to Innsbruck.

Simon Geschke (Sunweb) will make the short trip early before competing in the road race four days later for Germany.

“Unfortunately it is for many riders impossible to vote and that’s one of many problems,” he wrote. “Would love to see @millarforcpa getting a chance to change this!”