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Union president blasts rider protests: ‘Let’s have the vote’

The head of the CPA was critical of rider protests this week ahead of Thursday's controversial vote to determine the next union president.

FLORENCE, Italy (VN) — Cyclists’ union president Gianni Bugno disagrees with all the fuss around Thursday’s election.

In Innsbruck, Austria, the Association of Professional Cyclists (CPA) will meet Thursday to vote for its new president. Bugno is likely to win another term despite retired pro David Millar launching his candidacy this month and a last-minute protest letter sent by stars like Chris Froome that called out “unfair” procedures.

“We did all we needed to do according to the rules,” Bugno told VeloNews. “If they don’t agree, they can say what want.”

Riders expressed their displeasure with the block voting system that sees France, Italy, and Spain control the union and the inability to vote individually and remotely via the internet.

“Electronic voting? They can’t just come and say they want it now,” Bugno added. “They had four years to make it happen.”

Froome’s name appeared on a letter that surfaced Tuesday, along with 26 others — a list that included 2018 Tour de France winner Geraint Thomas (Sky), Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing), Philippe Gilbert (Quick-Step Floors), and Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb). They want their union to delay the vote in Thursday’s meeting to allow time for a better voting method.

Bugno won the Giro d’Italia and two road world titles in the 1990s. More time may be needed now that the union has someone challenging Bugno for the presidential spot. Earlier this month, Millar made the surprise move to run.

“Fair enough, if you cannot create an electronic voting system in time for the election, it’s quite simple — just postpone the election,” Millar said.

“It’s quite easy to change statutes. It’s another question if they want to.”

Bugno heard Millar, received the protest letter, and read the social media posts. Froome wrote, “The CPA is running a dictatorship, not a democracy which truly represents all the riders #fail”

“I don’t like all these attacks on the CPA,” Bugno said. “I don’t think they have it against me. Maybe there is something going on under the surface, I don’t know.”

Since Cédric Vasseur stepped down in 2010, Bugno has run the union that roughly 1,000 riders must pay into.

An issue is that only six member associations — France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Switzerland, and North America — control the union. France with 150 votes, Italy with 124, and Spain with 86 can easily have their say. The association heads from those nations vote with all of their riders’ votes. Cyclists from other non-represented nations vote individually, but that must be done in person.

Many riders, pointed out by this week’s letter, want the block system abolished and an electronic voting system put in place so each rider can cast his vote individually.

“It was an official letter from them, I read it. I don’t think it’s anything. They will have their chance to vote. It’s no issue,” Bugno said.

“There won’t be a change, the elections will go ahead. Nothing changes at all. There are costs to hold the meeting. We can’t just throw away money and throw it all away two days ahead of the election.”

Without any last-minute change, Bugno is likely to win. In the wake of that election, pressure is expected to mount on Bugno and the union to amend its statutes.

“We are going to look into [the voting procedures], for sure,” Bugno continued.

For now, Bugno supports the block system that North America recently joined. It has 67 votes, which will go toward Millar.

“The other nations have to make associations, that’s the fault of those who needed to make associations and vote,” he said. “First let’s have the vote, then we can look at this block system.”

Bugno might be forced to look at it because as Millar said, “everyone knows” the union needs to be reformed.

“Whether they can do it themselves or it takes an outsider, we’ll know more Friday,” Millar said. “Let’s see what happens.”