DUBLINER Pat McQuaid has been ousted as president of the international cycling union.
Britain's Brian Cookson, the head of British Cycling, beat the incumbent McQuaid by 24 votes to 18 at the UCI Congress in Florence.
It came after a morning of heated discussions at the Congress over whether McQuaid should even be allowed to stand after he was not nominated by the Irish federation or the one in Switzerland, where he lives.
After the result was announced, Cookson, who will now step down as president of British Cycling, issued a call for unity in the sport.
He 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 today.
"The campaign to get to this point has been intense but I am under no illusion that the real work starts now. So I call on the global cycling community to unite and come together to help ensure that our great sport realises its enormous potential. This is the vision that will drive and focus my activities over the next four years.
"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 WADA 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."
Cookson also issued thanks to McQuaid but alluded to the bitterness of the campaign.
He added: "Finally, while there have been some difficult moments between myself and my opponent Pat McQuaid during this election contest, I would like to thank Pat for the contribution he has made to cycling during his long career. I wish him well in whatever he goes on to do."
British Sports minister Hugh Robertson was among the first to congratulate Cookson.
He said: "I congratulate Brian Cookson on becoming the president of the UCI. Cycling in Britain has never been in a better place as it is right now, on both participation and elite fronts, and Brian deserves a lot of credit for that. I am sure he will do a fantastic job taking the sport forward globally."