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ZURICH -- European cycling leaders are officially backing challenger Brian Cookson against incumbent Pat McQuaid in the bitterly fought International Cycling Union presidential election.
The European Cycling Union, or UEC, says its members voted 27-10 to instruct their delegates to support Cookson in the Sept. 27 poll in Florence, Italy.
Cookson and McQuaid made speeches to a UEC meeting Sunday before the mandate vote.
Europe has 14 voting delegates in a secret ballot of the 42-member UCI electoral college that will choose the next president.
British candidate Cookson is pledging to restore cycling's credibility after the Lance Armstrong doping affair.
McQuaid is seeking a third four-year term amid widespread criticism of the Irish official and UCI's handling of doping allegations.
It remains unclear whether McQuaid has a valid nomination to be a candidate.