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CPA union set to ignore top riders and hold election

Despite a protest letter signed by 27 prominent pro cyclists, the CPA riders' union will push through presidential election on Thursday.

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FLORENCE, Italy (VN) — The Association of Professional Cyclists (CPA) is set to go against the demands of top cyclists including Chris Froome and proceed Thursday with a meeting and a vote for its president.

VeloNews understands from a source close to the protest letter — sent and signed by 27 cyclists including Froome, Geraint Thomas, and Greg Van Avermaet — that it had little effect on the union run by Gianni Bugno. The riders asked in the letter that Bugno and the CPA to postpone the election, pointing to an article in the CPA rules that it should not go forward given that they did not give a one-month notice.

Bugno and the CPA responded to the letter that any delay is “not feasible” for reasons including budget and that it would examine its voting procedures after the elections.

The growing howl of anger touched on in the letter seems to have minimal effect on the meeting in Innsbruck, Austria. The meeting takes place midweek during the world championships, placed between the time trials and the start of the road races.

The heads of the six different national associations will attend the meeting to vote for incumbent Bugno or David Millar. Michael Carcaise, head of the North American group, arrives early Wednesday morning. The others from France, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, and Portugal make the short trip from within Europe.

Those six nations vote as blocks for their riders. In each case, the riders’ votes are counted and their country backs either former Italian professional Bugno or recently retired Scottish cyclist Millar. Riders from other nations without a representative on the CPA’s board must vote in person.

The voting system, called “unfair” by some riders, provoked the letter written to Bugno and the CPA. However, it appears to be too late for the CPA to change course.

If the union holds the vote, Bugno will win. According to one source, France with its 150 votes and Italy with its 124 votes will tick Bugno on the ballot. Spain and Switzerland appear to be giving their votes to Bugno too even if “Spanish and Swiss riders want their riders to vote for Millar.”

VeloNews understands that North America will put its 67 votes toward Millar and that Belgium, which recently left the CPA board, could still vote, and if it does so, it would pick Millar.

It is left to Millar to make deals with the Italy, France, and Spain to try to sway their votes. Most riders from the other countries not represented will be unable to travel to the worlds just to vote. Tour de France champions Thomas and Froome will not travel to Innsbruck, according to a source close to the riders.

“The riders can’t just fly in for nothing, or they only do the TT and have to leave, or arrive later for the road race,” said one close to Thursday’s vote.

VeloNews received from the source parts of the CPA’s official response. It wrote to the 27 riders, saying that it would work on addressing issues presented in the letter. There is “the commitment of the entire steering committee, including its president, to start right after the elections.”

Head of the British and Irish Professional Cyclists’ Association, Ben Greetham told VeloNews that its wish is that there is not a presidential vote Thursday.

“Ideally, they would meet and vote to dissolve the block voting,” Greetham said. “I have confidence that under their rules they can change the block voting. Then we could arrange an election in 2019 for president.

“But as it stands, there’s no way for Millar for win.”