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Pendle praise for world cycling chief
FORMER Pendle Council boss Brian Cookson is the most powerful man in world cycling.
And colleagues and friends have hailed his appointment as ‘an enormous legacy for Pendle’.
Mr Cookson, 61, defeated Irishman Pat McQuaid in the election to become president of the International Cycling Union.
He beat the serving president by 24 votes to 18 in Florence, Italy yesterday after a campaign which saw the two men continually clash over the future of the sport.
Mr Cookson pledged to clean up cycling after a series of high-profile drug scandals tainted the sport.
Close friend Alan Gornall, a club coach at Cycle Sport Pendle who used to race again Mr Cookson, said he was ‘just what cycling needs’.
He said: “I have known Brian since around 1978 when we were racing together on the regional scene.
“He was a competitive regional cyclist and he once won one of the regional divisions, but he soon moved into organising races and administration. You could tell that was his real forte.
“When he moved on to the council he did an awful lot for cycling in Pendle. There are some excellent events held here now and some superb facilities.
“It’s fantastic news that he has been elected. He is just what cycling needs to move it on to the next level. There has been a lot done to clean up the sport but a lot of it has been led by the teams.
"It’s time for the governing body to step up.
“I think he’s going to be in for a busy few weeks though. He could have a lot on his plate.”
In 2004, Mr Cookson, who lives in Whalley, joined Pendle Council as executive director for regeneration and spent nine years in the role, retiring in March this year.
He was instrumental in bringing a number of major cycling events to the borough and for attracting funding for facilities such as the new Steven Burke Sports Hub in Nelson.
In his first year at Pendle Council he brought a high speed National Circuit Race Series to the borough, with the Colne Grand Prix now an annual event.
Since then, cycling greats, including Bradley Wiggins, Mark Cavendish and local hero Steven Burke, have battled it out through the centre of Colne.
He was awarded an OBE in May 2008 for his services to cycling. He was also one of the torch bearers in the run-up to the 2012 Olympics.
Coun Ann Kerrigan, who represents the Horsfield area of Colne said: “He is a huge talent and we are all very proud of him. You saw that with the number of things he brought Pendle like the Colne Grand Prix and a stage of the Tour Of Britain.
“Along with Steven Burke he has helped to put us on the map. No-one around here is surprised because he has always thought out of the box and he has left an enormous legacy for Pendle.”
Pendle Council leader Joe Cooney said: “Brian retired from Pendle Council in March after nine eventful years of regeneration work, but I think we all knew that his retirement wouldn’t involve much gardening or sitting in deckchairs.
“We’ve contacted him to say how pleased and excited we are for him and for British cycling.
“Through working with Brian, cycling has become our passion too and with the new Steven Burke Cycling Hub getting underway in Pendle, it can only go on from strength to strength.
“And Brian is still working with us on cycling initiatives in Pendle.
“It’s fantastic that Brian has carried his work for cycling to a world stage where he can play a huge role in international cycling.”
Speaking after his election victory, Mr Cookson said: “It is a huge honour to have been elected president of the UCI by my peers and I would like to thank them for the trust they have placed in me.”
Former Tour de France cyclist Alan Ramsbottom, who is from Clayton-le-Moors and used to race on the East Lancashire scene, said: “I think he will do a brilliant job.
“He is just what cycling needs. He is very well known in the local cycling scene and has done a lot for cycling in East Lancashire.”
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