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Turtur to lose key cycling post
By Roger Vaughan
21:04 AEST Thu Nov 29 2012

Mike Turtur, one of the most powerful men in Australian cycling, will lose his position as president of the Oceania confederation.

The decision of the Guam cycling federation to switch its vote from Turtur to Cycling Australia's candidate Tracey Gaudry abruptly short-circuits a potentially-disastrous political brawl in the sport.

"In respect to the likely outcome of the election, I wish the (Oceania) confederation all the best for the future and I will be watching with interest the development of the Oceania calendar in the next period," was Turtur's only public comment on the stunning development.

The Oceania presidency is an obscure political post, but whoever has the role sits on the powerful management committee of cycling's world governing body, the UCI.

The Oceania vote was already a red-hot issue for Australian cycling before last month, when Lance Armstrong was banned for life and stripped of his Tour de France titles.

There are ongoing calls for major reform of the UCI in the wake of the Armstrong scandal, the biggest crisis in cycling's history.

Gaudry, a two-time Olympic road cyclist and chief executive of the Amy Gillett Foundation, will be the first woman to serve on the UCI management committee.

Much of Gaudry's candidacy was based on her credentials in areas such as reform and anti-doping.

Guam's switch means Gaudry will beat Turtur three votes to one when the vote is taken this Sunday in Adelaide.

Before Guam changed its vote, a 2-2 deadlock loomed and it is understood Cycling Australia (CA) was prepared to take the issue to court.

It was another brewing controversy that the sport could ill afford given its battered image.

CA and Bike NZ backed the Gaudry ticket, with Fiji and Guam originally supporting Turtur.

While the Australian and NZ governing bodies are much larger, each national cycling federation has an equal vote.

It is understood that Guam's national Olympic committee played a key role in the local cycling federation making the late decision to switch its vote from Turtur to Gaudry.

Turtur is race director for Adelaide's Tour Down Under, the biggest annual cycling event in this country, and had been the Oceania president for the last four years.

It is unclear whether Turtur will continue as chair of the UCI track committee, which is unrelated to his Oceania role.

Relations between Turtur and Cycling Australia have dramatically declined.

Cycling Australia has claimed Turtur has a conflict of interest in his roles as Tour Down Under race director and Oceania president, something he emphatically denies.

Turtur is the brains behind the Tour, which started in 1999 and is a major success for Australian cycling.

The decision to associate closely with Armstrong during his 2009-11 racing comeback has come back to haunt the Tour to some extent, given the American's doping scandal.

But there is no doubt that Armstrong's presence also dramatically boosted the Tour's profile.

Turtur plans to continue as Tour race director, the role he has held throughout the event's history.