Pendle Council’s former executive director of regeneration, Brian Cookson, has been elected as president of the International Cycling Union (UCI).
Mr Cookson (61), who retired in March and was responsible for many innovative cycling initiatives in Pendle such as the Colne Grand Prix and the Pendle Cycling Festival, defeated incumbent Pat McQuaid by 24 votes to 18 in a ballot in Florence on Friday.
Mr Cookson has been president of British Cycling since 1997 and was awarded the OBE for his services to cycling in 2008.
He will step down from the role to take up his new position.
Under his tenure, cycling has become one of the most popular sports in the country with the likes of Sir Chris Hoy and Sir Bradley Wiggins winning multiple Olympic medals, with Wiggins also winning the Tour de France last year and this year’s Tour of Britain for good measure.
Colne’s Steven Burke, a winner of medals at two Olympics, is another to have achieved his success while Mr Cookson has been at the helm.
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.
“My first priorities as president will be to make anti-doping procedures in cycling fully independent, sit together with key stakeholders in the sport and work with the World Anti-Doping Authority to ensure a swift investigation into cycling’s doping culture.
“It is by doing these things that we will build a firm platform to restore the reputation of our international federation with sponsors, broadcasters, funding partners, host cities and the International Olympic Committee.
“Ultimately, this is how we grow our sport worldwide and get more riders and fans drawn into cycling.”
Mr Cookson served as UCI International Commissaire for 23 years between 1986 and 2009, helping to organise, co-ordinate and officiate international cycling races.
He had previously backed Mr McQuaid’s re-election campaign, but criticised the Irishman for his handling of the Lance Armstrong doping affair.
Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and given a lifetime ban by the United States Anti-doping Agency in August last year after admitting that he had used performance-enhancing drugs.