The contest to become the next president of cycling's world governing body the UCI took a potentially decisive step on Sunday when British candidate Brian Cookson won a significant victory over his rival Pat McQuaid.

Cookson gained support from a clear majority of the national federations of the European Cycling Union at a special meeting in Zurich, beating current UCI president McQuaid by 27 votes to 10.

It is understood that the Irish federation, which has not nominated McQuaid, abstained.

It means that all 14 European delegates who will vote in the UCI election in Florence on 27 September are now mandated to vote for Cookson, who needs 22 of the 42 global votes to win.

The UEC also voted against the proposal to amend the UCI constitution retrospectively to allow any two federations to nominate a presidential candidate.

If that vote is repeated at the congress in Florence it would prevent McQuaid even standing, as he has not been nominated either by Ireland or by Switzerland where he lives.

Cookson said: "I am delighted to have received the overwhelming support of the UEC who have shown such a positive approach to the development of our sport.

"There was a real appetite for change to help restore the credibility of the UCI and I am confident of building on the support of the UEC and federations from around the world as we head into the last days of the election."