/ Cycling

Pat McQuaid 'confident' of edging out frontrunner Brian Cookson on eve of UCI Presidency vote

Updated: Thursday, 26 Sep 2013 17:31 | Comments

Pat McQuaid and Brian Cookson go head-to-head for UCI presidency after bitter election campaign
Pat McQuaid and Brian Cookson go head-to-head for UCI presidency after bitter election campaign

Pat McQuaid is expecting to snatch a narrow victory in Friday’s vote for the presidency of the International Cycling Union over his challenger and favourite Brian Cookson.

Britain's Cookson appears to be in the lead in the race for the UCI leadership against the incumbent president McQuaid.

McQuaid admitted the vote outcome could be close at the UCI Congress in Florence, Italy.

"I would still be confident that I will be re-elected. I think it could be a close-run thing, but I would be confident I would win out in the end.," he told Press Association Sport.

"The support I'm getting is from the five continents, because I've worked to globalise the sport since I became president, I've got relationships around the five continents.

"At the end of the day there are many, many federations who are supporting me and many presidents who have written to me, telling me to stick with it, knowing I've been under a lot of pressure and not to consider resigning."

There are 42 votes to be cast and Cookson is confident of getting in the high 20s - he should get 14 just from Europe if their members stick to their pledge to support him, plus he has support from the Americas and Australia.

McQuaid's powerbase is in Africa and Asia, but first he has to persuade the Congress that he can be nominated by other federations - in his case Thailand and Morocco - after Ireland and Switzerland, where he lives, refused to do so.

McQuaid insists he has tackled the issue of doping, and taken the sport across the world during his eight years in office.

His detractors, however, are unhappy at his record in dealing with doping, including a vitriolic fall-out with the World Anti-Doping Agency over the UCI's handling of the Lance Armstrong scandal.

Cookson insists cycling now has a chance to choose a different path.

He said: "There is a massive appetite for change, there is no doubt about that."

Asked about his view of McQuaid staying in power, he added: "I think it would be fairly disastrous because the disputes and schisms in the sport would continue to grow."

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