FLORENCE, Italy (AP) — From Olympic champion Bradley Wiggins to Swiss time trial specialist Fabian Cancellara, riders don't seem to care much about Friday's contentious UCI presidential election.
While British challenger Brian Cookson is attempting to end the eight-year reign of Ireland's Pat McQuaid as head of cycling's world governing body, riders have taken an apathetic view. "It's not something I've really followed," said Wiggins, who won the time trial at the 2012 London Olympics weeks after becoming the first British rider to win the Tour de France.
"From my understanding it's a done deal — Cookson's already in. That's what I hear from people talking on the bus and stuff," Wiggins added. "Like with most of these things, the riders are the last ones to be asked what we think. We're just pawns in everyone's game and what goes on goes on."
The election, held during the road world championships, will be done by secret ballot among 42 voters. A simple majority of 22 votes is required for victory. It remains unclear if McQuaid has a valid nomination. Federations in his home country, Ireland, and Switzerland, where he lives, withdrew support after the UCI was accused of helping to cover up Lance Armstrong's doping.
McQuaid claims valid nominations from Thailand and Morocco — although those could be dependent on the UCI congress approving changes to the body's statutes before the presidential vote. "I have (more) important things to do than follow what is going on," Cancellara said. "For me what is really, really important is whatever will come we have the right president that goes in the right direction for cycling, the goodness of this sport and that we get all together stronger in the world of sports and politics."
"Because cycling is one of the best and most beautiful sports in the world, with so much passion that is behind us," Cancellara added. "But so many things go wrong because we have too many people who are egoists. ... The important thing is that everything is legal and in the right direction."
The voting congress will be held in Florence's historic Palazzo Vecchio. "I don't get a vote. I don't have an opinion," said promising American rider Tejay van Garderen, who finished fifth in last year's Tour. "No matter what happens, my paycheck is going to come at the end of the month and I'm still going to do my races."
Marianne Vos, the Dutch rider and Olympic champion who will be aiming to defend her title in the women's road race Saturday, knows both candidates well from her position on the UCI athletes' commission.
She offered mild support for Cookson. "For cycling it would be good to have some new input. But to me, McQuaid was good," Vos said. "He worked on good things for women's cycling. So we wouldn't need to change for that. But generally, probably (change) is better."
Last year, the athletes' commission came out in support of harsher penalties for doping, asking for sanctions for teams and entourages besides rider penalties. Vos also signed an online letter and petition to Tour organizers this year seeking a women's race alongside the men's event.
"I've been asking to work on the calendar and to make the teams more professional, to work on a program that looks more or less like the men's world tour," Vos said. "It would be better if there are real professional teams."
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