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Brian Cookson courting voters as UCI election looms

The British Cycling chief is courting votes in Africa and says Asia is not a lock for the incumbent

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It ain’t over till it’s over.

Brian Cookson is campaigning vigorously in his bid to unseat incumbent president Pat McQuaid when the UCI Congress convenes to elect a new leader later this month.

The UCI’s election process works a bit like an electoral college, with federations lumped together in geographic regions and voting en masse, much like states in a U.S. federal election. With that in mind, Cookson, the president of British Cycling, has been searching high and low for the votes needed to win the presidency.

Recently, he’s sought support in Africa. “I am very encouraged by the conversations I have had with delegates and key influential figures in African cycling,” he told VeloNews via e-mail. “I have been in regular contact with many national federation presidents; on the phone, via email and in person when the opportunity has arisen.”

Feedback has been heartening, Cookson said.

“Conversations have always been positive and constructive towards finalizing my ideas to improve cycling in Africa and have contributed to many of the policy ideas outlined in my manifesto,” he said. “We will continue to discuss cycling’s future, both in specific regard to Africa and globally in the coming days and weeks, and I’m looking forward to meeting all the delegates in Florence, where I am confident of securing their votes.”

At first blush, it seems that the votes in Asia, key to a victory, would fall to McQuaid. It was the Malaysian federation that floated a rule change to the UCI Constitution that would allow the Irishman to stand for election without the backing of his home nation’s federation.

But Cookson said there’s “a certain amount of dissatisfaction in the region in respect to how cycling is being run, and I have been encouraged to press on with my campaign for change.”

“I am currently arranging to meet the delegates from the Asian Cycling Confederation in Florence so I am again confident of having widespread support in the region,” he said.

Five regions make up the UCI’s electorate: Oceania, Africa, Asia, America, and Europe. Europe has 14 delegates, or 33 percent of the voting power. Asia and America have nine votes each. Africa has seven and Oceania three.

When the UCI Congress convenes September 27 at the UCI Road World Championships in Florence, Italy, it will first decide whether McQuaid is allowed to stand for re-election. If his nomination is approved, the body then will choose between the two men.

In the meantime, Cookson and McQuaid will square off at a debate Sunday in Zurich, Switzerland.