Michael Pavitt ©ITG

The result of the International Cycling Union (UCI) Presidential election certainly came as a surprise, perhaps not for its outcome, but for its scale.

Aided by the UCI Ethics Commission chair delivering the result in French, rather than the English he had used for 10 minutes to tell delegates not to take photos of their voting slips, the final figures were not the easiest to determine.

Surely it was 27-18? No, it was 37-8.

Either way, the outcome was clear. France's David Lappartient had comprehensively ended Brian Cookson's hopes of securing a second term at the UCI, ushering in a new era for the governing body.

Understandably, given the scale of the final result, the bones being picked are looking at the key elements which could have set the two candidates apart. Particularly when on the surface their manifestos did not seem vastly different. It was also generally assumed that the election would be too close to call heading into the final day.

Could it be a backlash against the growing British dominance in the sport, both administratively at the UCI and on the road with Team Sky? Perhaps the crisis in British Cycling itself, which Cookson had led as President from 1997 to 2013, had been a key part? Was his leadership style to blame, where one man's consensus-based approach could be viewed by others as passivity?

To an extent, there is probably a fair amount of truth in each of these views.

It probably also does a disservice to both candidates.

Lappartient is an impressive character. When murmurings first started last year that he might launch a bid for the UCI Presidency, the word used to describe the Frenchman was "ambitious". It is a word which has continually come up regarding him since. Personally ambitious, certainly. But also ambitious for the sport of cycling.

Ambition is quite an easy thing to sell to people. Especially when you do so with enthusiasm.

David Lappartient claimed a convincing election victory to unseat Brian Cookson ©UCI
David Lappartient claimed a convincing election victory to unseat Brian Cookson ©UCI

In the two days building up to the election, it was interesting to watch the Frenchman at work in the lobby of the Radisson Blu Royal Hotel in Bergen, where the election was eventually held. The 44-year-old was bounding around, greeting each and every arrival to the UCI's main hotel, voting delegate or not.

You could not fail to notice he was there and clearly his very personal approach must have helped in the final outcome. It is a personal approach which eventually made him late to a UCI Management Committee dinner, given his insistence on talking to everyone and, indeed, people wanting to talk to him.

Having quipped to his camp that "David is lobbying hard", I was assured that "David is always like this". It was explained how his campaign had really sought to nail down the issues impacting the national federations who, ultimately, are the ones deciding the outcome.

From the issues affecting some of the larger federations which Lappartient is well accustomed with having been the President of the European Cycling Union, to the smaller ones struggling to attend races and pay for equipment for their riders.

Cookson, of course, made similar promises to the federations. The Briton vowed to fund increases in development programmes and deliver a scheme providing bikes to federations in his final speech yesterday. But it was notable that Lappartient chose to focus on this in his victory press conference, asserting that federations had expected greater support over the past four years.

He appeared to suggest it was too little, too late for Cookson to make his pledges.

Lappartient has also been coined as a "political animal" by a French newspaper. In sport, the idea of politicians can be somewhat wearisome. However, it was put to me that you need to be a politician to succeed in this environment. It is certainly true.

The Frenchman is going to have to deal with Government organisations during his time at the UCI, he will have to manage the interests of his Management Committee, he is going to have to be a politician when working with event organisers and teams over the coming four years. Particularly given how he is starting from the position of being deemed the candidate of the powerful race organisers ASO. Just as any perceived "British bias" was difficult for Cookson, Lappartient could have the same with ASO. A point highlighted by Cookson yesterday.

David Lappartient has been praised for his political skill ©Getty Images
David Lappartient has been praised for his political skill ©Getty Images

Given his experience as a two-time French Cycling Federation President, a UEC President and the Mayor of the town of Sarzeau in Brittany, Lappartient has evidently got political nous. Nous only highlighted by his dominant election victory.

Whether that political savvy helps him to fulfil the pledges set out in his manifesto, which have been viewed as somewhat vague, remains to be seen.

With Lappartient, you can certainly imagine him fitting in well in the corridors of the Olympic Movement. Cookson, at times, you felt did not.

That is not a criticism of Cookson. In many ways he was a refreshing presence whenever you spoke to him in the Olympic circles. While some officials would tell you that something was 100 per cent not going to happen, only for it to happen later, you always felt Cookson told you it near enough straight.

In many ways, he gave off the impression of being a very decent, normal bloke in a bureaucratic world. Which sometimes begged the question whether he truly wanted to be there.

There has been some scorn cast by some over his record as UCI President, particularly surrounding the men's WorldTour and his relationship with ASO. Clearly, there are areas that could have been better, which Cookson would probably secretly admit himself.

However, he probably is right in saying that he leaves the organisation in better shape than when he took over as President. The relationship with the World Anti-Doping Agency and International Olympic Committee (IOC) is better than it was before. The UCI are genuinely viewed as one of the leading federations in the fight against doping, a point acknowledged by Lappartient yesterday. Cookson's successor also praised the development of women's cycling over the past four years. The governing body's financial position is seen as better than at any other point.

The UCI President could benefit from the organisation having been steadied under Brian Cookson's leadership ©UCI
The UCI President could benefit from the organisation having been steadied under Brian Cookson's leadership ©UCI

His achievements could also be picked at, however fairly or unfairly. The notable additions of the madison and BMX freestyle to the Olympic programme could be offset by track cycling being forced to move to Izu at Tokyo 2020. Cookson's suggestion that Lappartient could offer former President Pat McQuaid a role in a new UCI set-up also seemed to not hold much weight.

Elected, in a sense, as a move against McQuaid four-years ago, it is hard to argue against Cookson having steadied the UCI ship. Having been the problem child of international federations, the UCI have largely avoided crisis during Cookson's tenure. The tag has instead shifted to other federations in that period.

Having steadied the ship, one wonders whether Cookson was the man to push it on further. His election message was essentially more of the same, which has proved a fatal one in global elections in recent times.

Perhaps you could make the assertion that Cookson could be viewed as the UCI's equivalent of Jacques Rogge. The Belgian was largely credited with strengthening the IOC's credibility after the Salt Lake City scandal and boosting the organisation's financial strength.

It could be argued that neither really offered the grandest of visions for the future, but they ultimately did what they were originally elected to do.

Lappartient has managed to sell a vision to the voters, reflected by yesterday's vote. 

However, he may thank Cookson for providing a stable foundation to base his plans around.