Brian Cookson attended the Championships alongside his challenger for the UCI Presidency David Lappartient ©UEC

International Cycling Union (UCI) President Brian Cookson has claimed he will further help National Federations to develop young talent in the coming years, should he be re-elected.

The Briton watched two days of action at the European Track Junior and Under-23 Championships, which have been taking place at the Anadia Velodrome in Portugal.

Cookson was present with European Cycling Union President David Lappartient, who is his sole rival for the UCI Presidency at the upcoming Congress in September.

The incumbent claimed more funding has been dedicated to the UCI World Cycling Centre since he became President in 2013, but vowed to increase support in the event if he earns a second term.

“I want us to aim even higher and provide even more support to help National Federations so that we can see more athletes from all nations achieve their full potential,” he said.

“I also want to see more coaches from around the world coming to Aigle to improve their knowledge and skills.

“Young cyclists are the future of our sport, and I have seen some tremendous performances here in Portugal which I am sure will inspire future generations.

“It is up to the UCI to provide all the support we can to young cyclists, their coaches and National Federations, so that our sport continues to thrive.”

Cookson, who presented medals during the Championships, has prioritised accelerating international development, championing cycling for transport and leisure, ensuring equal opportunities for men and women to participate and compete in his manifesto.

He has also expressed his desire to building on restored credibility and ensuring the UCI continues to drive excellence in operations.

Cookson was handed a boost last month when BMX Freestyle and madison competitions were added to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic sport programme by the IOC.

The addition of the four medal events, Cookson believes, is evidence of the improved reputation the UCI have in the Olympic Movement under his leadership.

Portuguese Cycling Federation President Delmino Pereira met with Brian Cookson at the Championships ©Brian Cookson
Portuguese Cycling Federation President Delmino Pereira met with Brian Cookson at the Championships ©Brian Cookson

“We have seen our sport grow at Olympic level, with the integration of BMX Freestyle now in the Olympic Games and the Youth Olympic Games and that is a tremendous experience for young cyclists now.

“But there are other ways we have opened up our sport to young people as well.

“We introduced the women’s under-23 category for the UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships for the first time in 2016, we have Junior Track Worlds held every two years at the UCI headquarters in Aigle as well as the addition of a separate downhill women’s junior event at the Mountain Bike World Cup.”

Cookson is believed to boast support in Africa, the Americas and Asia, while Lappartient is deemed to have strong backing in Europe.

Portuguese Cycling Federation President Delmino Pereira thanked Cookson for his visit to the Championships.

“He not only saw our Anadia Velodrome where we have been holding the European Junior and Under-23 Track Championships, he also paid a visit to our Academy where we are developing our talented young riders, and was very impressed," he said.

“It is important that National Federations invest in youth, as we have done in Portugal.

“The future success of our sport relies upon a new generation of riders coming through and the opportunities they can now enjoy.”

The UCI election will take place in Bergen, Norway, on September 21.