Brian Cookson has hit back at criticism from his International Cycling Union Presidential election rival David Lappartient, who recently spoke out about perceived shortcomings in the development of women’s cycling.
Cookson, who seeking re-election, insists that the record of the 44-year-old Frenchman on women’s cycling is "lamentable".
Lappartient, President of the European Cycling Union (UEC) and a UCI vice-president, highlighted the need for changes in women’s cycling when launching his manifesto last month.
He then said in an interview with CyclingTips that he thinks the UCI could do "more" to help women's cycling.
But Cookson, who visited the Ladies Tour of Norway over the weekend, has hit back, saying he was "immensely proud" of the progress women’s cycling had made during his four years in office.
"David Lappartient has done little in his role as President of UEC and the French Cycling Federation to suggest he takes any interest in women’s cycling until now, when he thinks it could win him votes," the 66-year-old Briton said.
"If he wanted a woman on the European candidates’ list, why didn't he make it happen in his four years as UEC President?
"The one woman he had on the UEC Management Committee from 2013-2017 quit in disillusion because he never consulted with her or any other of his Management Committee colleagues.
"Women’s races have dropped off the calendar in France and his overall record where women’s cycling is concerned is nothing short of lamentable."
Defending his record, Cookson pointed to the fact that since being elected in 2013 he has launched the UCI Women’s WorldTour, which has three times as many races as the previous series.
He added that the governing body is pursuing many initiatives to promote women’s cycling such as funding the broadcast of events, equaled prize money with the men at all of the UCI World Championships and appointed their first female vice-president, Tracey Gaudry.
"There is always more we can do to improve competitions and there is an education job to be done to make organisers and sponsors take women’s cycling more seriously, which will in turn have a positive effect on earnings and resources," Cookson said.
"You only have to see the level of competition and the outstanding support here in Norway to see how popular women’s cycling can be.
"If I am re-elected as UCI President, I am committed to helping women’s cycling reach the next level."
The Presidential vote is scheduled to take place on September 21 at the UCI Congress in Bergen in Norway.