Britain's Brian Cookson will learn later today whether he has won the bitterly-disputed race to be the presidency of the international cycling union (UCI).

Cookson, the head of British Cycling, is standing against the incumbent president, Irishman Pat McQuaid, and went into the election in Florence confident he had over-taken his rival who at one stage had looked the favourite to win.

The campaign has been a vitriolic one - right up to the very end with Cookson's camp furious at an attempt to stop him using a powerpoint presentation and slides in his final speech to the UCI Congress delegates.

One UCI management committee member said: "The feeling is that McQuaid is now running scared and very worried that Cookson is in the lead. This last-minute attempt to ban any backdrop seems absurd."

"I would still be confident that I will be re-elected" - Pat McQuaid

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 the mandate, 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 himself admitted it could be close.

He told Press Association Sport: "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."

"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."

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 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.

"My style is not about confrontation. My style is about consensus building, partnership building and involving all of the stakeholders in a way that is appropriate and assertive and strong, not confrontational, aggressive and argumentative and that I think has been part of the root of the problem frankly."