Three-time Tour de France winner Greg LeMond's claim that he should take over cycling's governing body to lead the sport out of crisis following the Lance Armstrong doping scandal is nothing but a publicity "stunt," UCI President Pat McQuaid said.
McQuaid said LeMond "knows nothing" about running elite cycling and anti-doping programs.
"It is a little bit arrogant of Greg to come along and be used - and he is being used - as a PR stunt," said McQuaid, describing LeMond as a "good friend" from the 1980s. "In all seriousness, this is not the time to be pulling stunts."
The UCI leader suggested that LeMond made a mistake by letting cycling activists promote his bid to replace McQuaid after he joined their meeting in London this month.
"The last 25 years, where has he been? Nowhere. Not involved in cycling. He is outside cycling, shouting at it looking in," McQuaid said.
The Irish official made clear he plans to stand for election to a third four-year mandate in September.
"We had a big crisis," McQuaid said. "We have a perception problem, I know that, but I don't see me stepping down is going to change that perception. I need to oversee the action that is going on at the moment."
LeMond, a longtime Armstrong critic, emerged as an unofficial spokesman in recent weeks for the UCI's critics. They seized on the US Anti-Doping Agency's suggestions that the governing body protected Armstrong from scrutiny, and accepted money in exchange, while he helped his teams run massive doping programmes.
"I would love to be part of the process of change and if that means as interim (UCI) president then I would be willing to do that," LeMond said in London. "I am definitely not pushing myself."
LeMond said it would be like "the fox guarding the henhouse" to leave McQuaid and UCI honorary president Hein Verbruggen, who led cycling from 1991-2005, in office.
The UCI has reacted on three fronts since October 22 when it endorsed a USADA report calling for Armstrong to be banned for life and stripped of his race results, including his record seven Tour de France titles.
McQuaid's embattled organisation is cooperating with an independent commission's investigation into its links to the Armstrong case and is asking stakeholders how to improve cycling's future. That future will not include a suggested series of 10 four-day races, he told The AP.
McQuaid insisted Thursday that the UCI was "as shocked as anybody else" to read of the detailed cheating by Armstrong's Tour-winning US Postal Service and Discovery Channel teams.
He criticised USADA for "unacceptable" attacks on the UCI's integrity, which he insisted would be upheld by the three-member commission hearings scheduled in London in April.
"We need a set of independent facts stating what actually happened," said McQuaid, who expects he and Verbruggen will be called as witnesses. "That will be a good thing and the UCI has no fears coming from that."
On Thursday, the UCI also announced that consultancy firm KPMG will advise the federation on modernising the way the Switzerland-based body is managed.