There is an election for the President of the Cyclistes Professionel Associes, or CPA, coming up later this month at the World Championships in Innsbruck. The CPA is the current association which represents professional men’s WorldTour and ProContinental road cyclists to the UCI. Since 2010, the Italian ex-pro Gianni Bugno has served as the President of the CPA, and was already re-elected once in 2014. He is up for his third term, but he will face a challenger for the first time, another well-known ex-pro, David Millar from the UK.
The CPA started back in 1999 to unite many men’s national rider associations from traditional cycling nations such as France, Holland, Italy, Spain, and Belgium, which had never worked together before to solve common issues. Earlier this year, Holland and Belgium voted to leave the CPA because of concerns such as the imbalance of power which limits the input from smaller national associations, alleged mismanagement of CPA finances, and a lack of transparent communication to the riders.
Many other male riders have now stated in public and on social media that they are unhappy with how the CPA is being run, and in the organization’s long-term strategy. Individual CPA members are saying they want to vote in this Presidential election for two reasons: to possibly have new leadership, but also to let the current leadership know that they want more change and a stronger role in the sport’s future.
Why Start The Cyclists’ Alliance Instead Of Join The CPA?
The CPA is a much different organization than The Cyclists’ Alliance. We have invested a great amount of our time and effort really investigating what is going on in the women’s peloton, and how an athlete union can change women’s sports. We attended CPA meetings in 2016 and 2017, spoke with many sports union advisers and lawyers, and met with many of our male colleagues. We discovered that the CPA wasn’t meeting the expectations of the current professional men, and does not have the structure to represent women in a fast-growing sport. Therefore, we chose to set up our own union.
Women’s racing and its rider support issues are different than the men’s sport, and our commitment to you and our representation of you reflects this conclusion on every level. The Alliance has a simpler, transparent structure and way of working with all riders: not as riders separated by our nations, but as one organization of professional women athletes competing in a globally-connected and growing sport. In this way, no riders from smaller or ‘newer’ cycling countries are left out. We can receive first-hand information from the peloton as issues come up, and we have a board that is either still racing or only very recently retired.
We are still a very young and growing organization, but in the near future, we will hold a general assembly where our members have a direct vote to choose a new board, including electronic voting for riders who can’t attend in person. There will also be a voting for a ‘rider representative board’ so that we can share more responsibilities and policy-development.
We Support David Millar
Millar has stated, “The time has come to modernise and reform it and to put the interest of all pro cyclists at its heart.” Because of this, we support Millar to become the CPA President and agree on his four-point manifesto that the men’s union should be more professional, more active, more representative, and more vocal.
We believe that Millar’s approach will move the CPA in a direction similar to our own and strengthen the CPA into a union that is able to represent all male professional cyclists. The Alliance and a Millar-led CPA can coordinate in the future on our common issues like anti-doping and race safety. We proposed this kind of cooperation to the CPA when we established the Alliance in December, 2017.
The CPA turned down our proposal, and rather than worry about the past history and culture of cycling, we chose to move forward and build athlete support programs, economic proposals, and partnerships which could benefit all women, racing in all disciplines today. As we learned from Belgium and Holland, the CPA has many critical matters which it must fix with the help of a new leader like Millar. Women’s issues have not been the CPA’s top priority in the last year or in this upcoming election. However, improving the careers for women in cycling is our onlypriority. This is one reason why the Alliance has taken a leading role for influencing the future of our sport.
Just as we listened to the women of cycling to prioritize what is important to them, we hope that the current CPA board hears what the male riders are saying today. The members of the CPA should have the chance to vote their individual conscience for their future. If that does not happen, we are happy to support and advise the men on ways they can influence the CPA from inside, through new proposals, reforms, and initiatives that really have the support of, and provide benefits to all the riders.
We believe the men should not wait for changes to come from other decision-makers in the sport. It is more important to look to the future, with new ideas and a strong vision from someone like Millar, rather than keeping the sport in its past. If the men decide they want to form a new union, we can also share our experiences to help them along – or even discuss ways of including male riders in the Alliance somewhere in the future. As other sports have shown us, anything is possible when the athletes build unity and decide their path together.
Whatever the outcome of the CPA election, don’t forget: without the riders, there’s no race. Riders, it’s time to make your voice be heard!