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Lappartient defends CPA against growing pressure from riders

UCI president backs rider's union from efforts to change voting bylaws within the group.

UCI president David Lappartient defended the role of the CPA against growing pressure from riders inside the peloton demanding change.

Lappartient threw his support behind the CPA — the only riders’ association officially recognized by the UCI — during a press conference this weekend at the road cycling world championship in Italy.

The comments came following growing pressure by nearly 350 top WorldTour pros who’ve been pressing the CPA — Cyclistes Professionnels Associés — for changes of the group’s voting system.

“The CPA is doing its job,” Lappartient said Saturday. “The CPA will remain the official body recognized by the UCI, and the same for the riders.”

Lappartient’s public endorsement of the CPA comes in the wake of a behind-the-scenes breach this week between efforts by a splinter group representing about 340 top WorldTour pros and the CPA management.

As reported this week by VeloNews, representatives of the splinter group walked away from an expected meeting this week because it says the CPA did not provide documents or agenda items outlining changes they say were promised.

The CPA countered that no promises were made, characterized the fallout as a misunderstanding, and said that the group welcomes continued talks.

The latest stalemate represents growing tensions between many disgruntled WorldTour pros, who say that the CPA does not represent their interests, and the CPA, which contends that it is working in good faith to act as a bridge between the peloton and the UCI and other key stakeholders.

Lappartient entered the fray publicly Saturday, calling reports of the latest impasse as “fake news,” and suggested there is a movement to undermine the CPA, created in 1999 by the UCI to provide a formal voice for riders and a place at the table in key management committees.

“There clearly was some ‘fake news,'” Lappartient said Saturday. “It was a sort of manipulation and explained some things that were not true. There is a global wish to destabilize the CPA.”

Some riders have expressed long-running frustration with some aspects of how the CPA is organized and operated. This spring during the COVID-19 lockdown, riders began a new organizational push, garnering the signatures of 340 top WorldTour pros in the elite men’s peloton.

They took their demands to the CPA, and had hoped to meet in Imola this week to formalize some critical policy issues.

One key point of contention is how voting rights are divvied up among the peloton. Under the current CPA system, riders are represented under national associations, which in turn vote in blocks.

Riders are pressing for what they call a more representative system, and want the concept of “one-rider, one-vote” to be introduced for the CPA in order to promote what they say is a more unified voice to other key stakeholders but also for internal elections for the group’s leadership.

Lappartient defended the CPA, and said the group will remain the UCI’s only officially recognized group even if the splinter group tries to create a stand-alone association beyond the control of the CPA.

“We are not always in agreement with the CPA,” Lappartient said. “They have their job to do, we have our job to do. We always try to find some solutions in the interest of the riders.

“But I cannot accept that they use some ‘fake news’ to destabilize the CPA, which is clearly the case, and we have proof of this,” he said. “I know some riders have received the right information, and the situation has decreased.”

On Saturday, several riders took to social media to rally support for what they say would be better representation within the WorldTour peloton.

“One rider, one vote — would be a good place to start if you ask me,” wrote Wout Poels on Twitter.

“One rider, one vote — that’s only logic in our opinion,” wrote Iljo Keisse on Twitter.

So far, the CPA appears to have blunted the latest entreaties from the riders’ group. Representatives of the splinter group said it is reconsidering its options.