199 Laps (pt6)

Embed from Getty ImagesUnfortunately, for the most interested followers of this series of Hour Record blogs, under the ‘199 Laps’ banner, I’m not even making up the Brad Wiggins attempt date this time round, he’s done it for me this time!

For those just tuning in, completing 199 laps of a 250m track will break the current revised UCI Hour Record, which is just under 50km, hence the title. The big guns in mens time trialling, Tony Martin, Fabian Cancellara & Wiggins can all easily extend this by quite a way if they made an attempt. To add to the UCI’s story, it seems they’re not going to allow anybody who is not participating in the UCI’s bio-passport programme a chance to have a go at the record. UK time trialling ace Matt Bottrill enquired about this, but was told he could attempt a masters record, but not the actual ratified UCI Hour record.

June 2015

William Fotheringham secured the latest information during an interview with the Guardian this week. Wiggins has pencilled in late June, the interview is HERE. The smart money is on Brad going to go for this at London, not only because he’s from there originally (well, some argue we could say he was originally Belgian), but it’s also the correct shape of 250m track for this kind of record. Much more of a bowl than a track like Glasgow, London has shorter straights & shallower bends, allowing a smoother transition for the endurance records.

Wiggins is also targeting Paris-Roubaix again, I suspect this will see him confirming that he’s never riding a grand tour again. We know he’s considering adding some muscle mass, which will benefit him on the track & on the pavé. But this will compromise his climbing ability & any mountain domestique duties that he may have been lined up for, essentially ruling him out of a Tour squad, unless Froome thinks Brad is now too ‘Hulk Hogan’ to try to unseat him as leader. In the world of Wiggins, nothing is really written in stone, everything can & probably will change before June.

Who Else?

Cancellara was quite keen on the Merckx style record, before they introduced the revised rules on aero equipment. We’ve not heard a peep from Tony Martin, but as I’ve said before, it may take a little more track work to his incredibly effective brute-force style to convert that to a smooth track technique.

I’d also be surprised if another lesser known World-Tour rider doesn’t have a go before June. With full aero equipment & maybe a little track pedigree, I’m sure pretty much any rider from one of the top teams could reach 50km in an hour with aerodynamic equipment, until one of the specialists blows it out of the water. This is a huge opportunity for somebody to put their name in the record books, now that Wiggo has set a date, the deadline is drawn to have a go before it becomes an impossible task. I’m thinking especially of the large amount of Aussies & Kiwi’s with vast track experience, but we also have a rider like Phinney, who could potentially devote some time to this project as part of his recuperation & set a very competitive distance. Don’t rule out other experienced track riders on the bio-passport programme (Michael Morkov?) during a winter Six Day, a flagging event could provide their local star with an opportunity to break a prestigious record, while also selling a few more tickets to the locals in the process. I find it highly unlikely that nobody will make an attempt before June, it’s just too lucrative an opportunity to miss for rider, Six Day, or even one of the Revolution meetings to include an Hour Record attempt, even if it only stands for a short period of time. Is there currently any publicly accessible way in which we can see any riders who have signed up & funded their own bio-passport programme, if they’re not in the top-tier of teams?

The Gist Of It

It’s fairly secure Wiggins will go for the Hour Record in 2015, the question is, who will go for it first? I suspect Martin & Cancellara will not consider an attempt before June, they would have to devote far too much time to that one goal. It’s likely they’ll see what Brad can do, then secretly test to see it their own attempt is a possibility. This would upset a resurgence in the Hour Record, I can only hope that Brad leaves a little in the tank. If the record is absolutely shelved in June we may not see another attempt for a decade, but at least we would have a Tour champion holding it. Ideally, I’d like to see some more hour battles in the near future, not a record knocked completely out of the park, Brad, don’t go quite full gas, please.

199 Laps (pt3)

Having failed miserably in my Hour Record predictions in my previous blogs, I’m obviously going to continue & make some more ‘informed’ & potentially inaccurate predictions as to Wiggins behaviour.

Fabs

Fabian Cancellara has been reported today in the Italian press to be aiming for an Hour Record attempt after the Tour this year. We knew last year an attempt would be made by ‘Spartacus’ at some point in 2014, but this is the closest we’ve got to anything definitive. We also have no confirmed venue, hopefully he’ll not go for the Aguascalientes track in Mexico, which was used for a UCI Track World Cup in December 2013, placing the record out of reach of any attempts at sea level. The UCI don’t differentiate anymore between altitude records & sea level records, most of the competition records are now at altitude, which isn’t important for direct competition & medals, but is very important for world record attempts.

Positions & Bikes

The UCI has been reported to have been looking at changing the rules on the Hour record, currently you have to adopt an Eddy Merckx style velocipede & modern developments like aero rims, triathlon handlebars, profiled tubes & power meters are banned. Which makes putting together a competitive Hour record bike actually quite difficult to get the best aero advantage. An off-the-peg frame probably isn’t going to give the best extreme position for an hour locked in a drop bar position as they’re set up for bunch racing, while pursuit bikes are set up for riding with tri-bars. We saw Chris Boardman have one specially built & Graeme Obree’s planned attempt had a bike with a very long top tube. The UCI’s ‘progressive’ idea was to stop technology playing such a big part in the record, but ended in destroying any interest in the former ‘blue riband’ event in cycling records. Former Tour winners & cycling champions would often attempt it at the end of their careers, this tradition has now ended, but there is a resurgence in interest now with time trial specialists like Cancellara, Tony Martin & Bradley Wiggins all interested.

Hopefully we’ll have a relaxation in the rules before Cancellara’s attempt, so a current UCI legal pursuit bike can be used. The record has always progressed aerodynamically, with riders from different era’s not being compared directly by the fans, it was a mistake of the UCI to attempt to lock the medal at the technology of 1972, that was never really going to work. You can see the iconic names on the all time list of Hour Record holders in THIS link.

My Latest Wiggins Prediction

I’ve been reading a lot of interviews with Brad recently, he seems to have his head re-attached after a lacklustre 2013 (for him). Looking at his goals for 2014, an Hour Record will fit in nicely, but I’m going for a much later date now that my previous prediction of a late 2013 or early 2014 attack on the record, which has been well & truly discredited.

I’m looking at his build up to the 2014 World Time Trial Championships, which will be held in spain on the 24th September. The Worlds preparation includes the Vuelta, where he can do plenty of Hour Record specific muscular adaptation work on the drops, possibly without anybody noticing.

The UCI have a Track World Cup scheduled the 7th to 9th November. Would it be too much for Brad to ask if British Cycling would like to include a sneaky wee Hour Record attempt in there. With the Commissaire’s & officials all present, plus a partisan crowd, wouldn’t it be even more exciting for him if that World Cup was held at the London Velodrome? So there’s my latest prediction, 8th November, London, Bradley Wiggins Hour Record attempt. (Disclaimer. I don’t even know if that World Cup is being held in the UK, but let’s get some interest going in the Hour Record again, prove me wrong, but we’re all missing out by not having our top time trialists attempting it)