Procycling - - THE BIG INTERVIEW -

The Das Mei ho­tel, lo­ca­tion for the four-yearly vote to se­lect the pres­i­dent of the pro rid­ers’ union, the Cy­clistes Pro­fes­sionels As­so­ciés, is a post­mod­ern block on Nat­ter­erS­traße in a vil­lage called Mut­ters. An aptly named lo­cale, surely, con­sid­er­ing the an­gry dis­il­lu­sion­ment that had em­anated from the pelo­ton in the past month about what they saw as the CPA’s shoddy con­sti­tu­tion and man­age­ment struc­tures. David Mil­lar, the re­cently-re­tired pro, braved ver­bal brick­bats to chal­lenge Gianni Bugno, the in­cum­bent, for the pres­i­dency. The cam­paign­ing that had started swiftly in early Septem­ber was still elec­tri­fy­ing some rid­ers right up to the eve of the vote; on so­cial me­dia they manned the prover­bial bar­ri­cades.

But on elec­tion day at the Das Mei, nary a mouse stirred. If sparks were fly­ing in the con­fer­ence room where the Gen­eral Assem­bly was be­ing held, all was quiet in the lobby. Two grey men su­per­vised the ap­pa­ra­tus of the elec­tion: a booth and the card­board bal­lot box, with the CPA logo sel­l­otaped hap­haz­ardly onto the front. Out­side, rep­re­sen­ta­tives of four British me­dia ti­tles – Pro­cy­cling in­cluded - were wait­ing. There couldn’t have been a clearer in­di­ca­tion that this storm was largely con­tained in an English-speak­ing teacup. UCI pres­i­dent David Lap­par­tient’s chauf­feur-driven car was parked nearby in the shade from the au­tum­nal Aus­trian sun­shine. It wasn’t the pres­i­dent’s ride, but that of Bob Sta­ple­ton, chair­man of USA Cy­cling, who was at­tend­ing the assem­bly as an ob­server. Then the Czech Repub­lic team turned up on their bikes. They voted, took some self­ies and stopped to be in­ter­viewed. “The last week there was a lot of talk about CPA and the or­gan­i­sa­tion and so I think it is im­por­tant that we do some­thing for it,” said Ždenek Šty­bar, through a mouth­ful of ba­nana. He ad­mit­ted it was the first overtly po­lit­i­cal act he’d taken as a rider. What did he want the CPA to act on? “There is a lot. We have to start some­where. We have to pri­ori­tise the is­sues and then start to work,” he replied vaguely.

More time passed. A taxi pulled up and the Lat­vian, Toms Sku­jinš, emerged at the end of an im­pres­sive trip. He had an hour-long train jour­ney from the team ho­tel into Inns­bruck, then the bus to Mut­ters had failed to ma­te­ri­alise and so he took a taxi. Be­cause of the vot­ing sys­tem and the dom­i­nance of ‘old cy­cling coun­tries’ who voted en bloc, his vote for change made less im­pact than the story of his jour­ney. Sku­jinš struck a faintly de­spon­dent tone. “The next vote is go­ing to be in four years. What can we protest on? Not start a race? That just sucks for ev­ery­one: fans, spon­sors... Yeah sure we can protest in a race but it doesn’t feel like the CPA will lis­ten.”

Bugno won by 379 votes to 96. Just 17 rid­ers cast a vote at the bal­lot. By the week­end, news of the vote had been over­taken by rac­ing and the UCI’s an­nounce­ments: yet more tinker­ing with the struc­ture of men’s elite rac­ing, a mixed-gen­der TTT re­lay; Worlds venues up to 2025. It’s a long wait un­til the next CPA elec­tion in 2022. Who will re­mem­ber what started in Mut­ters?

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