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UCI vice president David Lappartient will vacate his leadership role at the French Cycling Federation and has hinted that he may run for the UCI’s top job.
Lappartient discussed his decision to leave his French Cycling Federation post in an interview with l’Equipe on Friday. When asked if he would run for the UCI presidency, Lappartient said, “It could be interesting, in the end.”
Current president Brian Cookson will run for a second and final term, he said in March. Cookson was elected to his current term in 2013. Elections will take place at the world championships in Norway next fall.
Lappartient’s election to the UCI’s top post would be something of a coup for the Amaury Sport Organization, owners of the Tour de France and other major races. In the longtime feud between and the UCI, teams, and ASO, Lappartient is considered to be an ally for the French sports company.
Lappartient was part of a coalition built by current UCI president Cookson as he entered office, but has consistently differed from Cookson on major issues.
The Frenchman was also a key broker in the grand bargain struck between the UCI and ASO this fall, which set out rules for the future of the WorldTour and ended ASO’s threat to pull its race out of the UCI’s premier calendar.
That deal, announced in June, was considered a victory for ASO. The French race organizer pushed for the new promotion/relegation system, reducing the number of WorldTour teams, and a WorldTour calendar expansion. Multiple sources have informed VeloNews that Lappartient’s place at the head of the PCC was vital to the adoption of the new rules, which are largely opposed by teams.
In the drawn-out negotiations surrounding new WorldTour rules, the PCC initially approved (but without consensus) a series of changes that did not include a promotion/relegation system and left teams with longer guarantees of a WorldTour license. Teams, which value long-term and guaranteed access to the sport’s biggest race, backed the proposed structure the Tour de France.
Shortly after the PCC’s meeting on the matter, a letter was leaked in which the ASO threatened to pull its races out of the WorldTour calendar.
Around the same time, Lappartient sent a letter as head of UEC, without full approval of UEC board, expressing criticism of Cookson’s running of the UCI.
Lappartient is believed to have voted against the initial reform package, and to have ushered in the subsequent compromise.
Lappartient told L’Equipe that he is leaving the French Cycling Federation due to his involvement with the UCI and the European Cycling Union.
“My involvement as president of the European Cycling Union, vice president of the UCI, and chairman of the Professional Cycling Council (PCC) seems less and less compatible with leading a federation as large as ours,” he said.
An email to Lappartient on Friday went unanswered.