After months of heavy duty politicking, corruption allegations and threats of secret dossiers, the International Cycling Union (UCI) voted for change after an almost farcical display in Florence's Palazzo Vecchio.
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7 Apr 2015 - 11:32 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2015 - 3:38 PM

Incumbent President Pat McQuaid lost his battle with British Cycling boss Brian Cookson in a vote by 42 delegates at the UCI Congress after first winning the battle to ensure his nomination.

For those who don't know, Palazzo Vecchio is where Niccolo Machiavelli once held an office. He wore many hats in renaissance period Florence, but is mostly remembered today for his clear eyed tome on the art of politics, The Prince.

However, what transpired on the day would have made the Florentine either LOL or jump off the Ponte Vecchio.

Procedure, motion, discussion, procedure, motion, discussion, votes by hand, votes by hand to have secret ballots, secret ballots, then a 21-21 draw on the Area 51.1 of amendments, which allowed the proceedings to continue.

After that sister-kisser of congressional indecision, speeches were made by McQuaid and Cookson, who both promised a chicken in every pot, a day off every fourth Sunday and a bottle of invisible ink for bio passport entries.

Later, a UCI-appointed Swiss lawyer was then called upon to give further legitimacy to McQuaid's candidacy, arguing that an invalid nomination found invalid after the nomination deadline was still valid.

With the buffet getting cold, the hours long war of attrition was eventually won by McQuaid who finally forced an exhausted Cookson to say "bring it on."

In fighting and losing the UCI presidential battle, McQuaid gave an easy to satirise political masterclass which could be used as the out-takes from Machiavelli's book, sidestepping any attempt to stop him from contesting the vote with increasingly creative interpretations of the UCI constitution.

While we don't yet know the precise way in which the votes fell, it was believed that Cookson had the backing of 14 European votes, directed by the European Cycling Union, Oceania, three votes, including Australia and New Zealand. McQuaid reportedly had the support of nine Asia and seven from Africa.

The American confederation had nine votes, but with the exception of the United Staes and Canada, kept quiet on which way its full support would fall.

Political machinations aside, McQuaid lost his bid for a third term despite his strong links to the IOC, efforts to globalise the sport and recent anti-doping initiatives.

Cookson worked hard in the run-up to the vote and clearly represented himself as a fresh start to delegates, with his quiet efforts in leading Great Britain to the top of world cycling probably clinching the deal.

Where does the vote leave global cycling? For starters there is now certainty, a clear break with the past and a chance for cycling's governance to repair itself.

There are also much needed moves within the organisation to firewall itself, with several of its functions, most notably anti-doping, set to operate independently, and championed by Cookson.

"The campaign to get to this point has been intense but I am under no illusion that the real work starts now," said Cookson after the vote.

"So I call on the global cycling community to unite and come together to help ensure that our great sport realises its enormous potential. This is the vision that will drive and focus my activities over the next four years.

"I have said throughout my campaign that we must embrace a new style of governance and a collegiate way of working so that a new era of growth and commercial success for the UCI and our sport can begin.

"My first priorities as President will be to make anti-doping procedures in cycling fully independent, sit together with key stakeholders in the sport and work with WADA to ensure a swift investigation into cycling's doping culture.

"It is by doing these things that we will build a firm platform to restore the reputation of our International Federation with sponsors, broadcasters, funding partners, host cities and the International Olympic Committee. Ultimately this is how we grow our sport worldwide and get more riders and fans drawn into cycling."

Lastly, there was junior women and under-23 men world championship bike racing on the roads of Florence going on during the vote.

In what could be considered a metaphor of sorts, the future talent on which the sport depends was overshadowed by the politics of adults.

Cookson's election gives us a glimmer of hope that such a clash will never happen again.