Track Cycling’s Strange Quirk

Embed from Getty ImagesAs you watch this Sundays Hour Record attempt by Bradley Wiggins, bear in mind that no part of him, or any static part of his bike has actually travelled the Hour Record distance he sets. It’s a quirk of riding on a velodrome compared to riding on the road, science gets involved & messes things up, during a quiet period of any hour attempt you can bore your family with this info, perfect cycling nerd territory. A long-legged rider has an inbuilt benefit from this, here’s why….

The Banking Effect

Let’s take a hypothetical vertical wall of death you may have seen motorbikes using as an example. This wall of death has Brad Wiggins cycling round it, but it’s quite a small diameter wall of death, so his head is sitting exactly at the centre of rotation. Even though he’s having to ride at 55kmh to keep going on this vertical wall, his head isn’t really going anywhere, he barely feels any wind there at all, it’s just rotating on the spot, causing little or no aerodynamic drag. The only point travelling at 55kmh is the point his tyre touches the wall of death. So Brad’s body or bike frame isn’t actually travelling at 55kmh, the fastest static point of his bike is his bottom bracket, which is travelling less distance than his bike computer would tell him.

A track rider, banked over on a velodrome experiences a similar, but not quite so dramatic effect. The riders body travels at a slower speed on the bankings than a computer measuring wheel rotations would indicate. Consequently, if an accurate GPS unit was affixed to the handlebars it would also read less distance & a slower speed in the bankings than the timekeepers would tell you, there’s nowhere on a bike you could fit a GPS unit that would record the exact track distance covered.

There’s aerodynamic consequences from the banking effect, Brad’s body will be causing more aerodynamic drag on the straight than it does on the bankings. His body’s air speed is slower in the bankings than on the straights, even though his track speed is the same. So as a rider gets taller, their effective body speed reduces on the bankings. It also makes wheel choice & even bottom bracket shape are more important than it originally seemed, as that as close to the point of consistently maximum speed as you can get, that point travels fastest for longest in the Hour Record.

‘Analytic Cycling’ Study

The excellent ‘Analytic Cycling‘ website, contains a wealth of information for cycling geeks, they’ve done a study using the geometry of the Dunc Gray Velodrome in Australia. The test is based on a flying 200m time trial effort, so our distance are not based on a full lap, but include a full banking & one partial banking, so our reduction in distance the centre of gravity travels per lap is more than shown here.

The model they generate shows that even though the track distance is 200m (199.99m), the distance the centre of gravity travels is about 3m less (196.7m) at a pace equivalent to a 14.166 second over 200m. This also shows that there’s a 0.3 second advantage gained on their baseline model, caused by the leaning affect & the riders centre of gravity not travelling as far as the track distance. In the next test the speed is increased & we find that the distance the centre of gravity travels reduces again, as the rider leans in more, essentially cutting the corner yet again. The final test shows that a rider sitting 200mm higher on the bike, with longer legs, also reduces the time for the 200m based on the same power & reduces the distance travelled even further.

So in summary, a taller rider (or one with longer legs to be precise) travels less distance each lap than a shorter rider, they benefit from the leaning effect of the banking, it reduces their time for the same power output. If the additional wind resistance from the longer legs can be minimised, a taller rider (such as Wiggins) has a distinct advantage. It also means that the faster you go, the more benefit you get from this reduced travel effect, which may slightly counter the huge increases in wind resistance you get from increased velocity, anything is a bonus.

The Gist Of It

This is a bit of fun for cycling nerds, but it does show a measurable improvement in speed. Those with the analytic tools to make these estimations correctly have perhaps identified an ideal body type for a pursuit/hour-record rider. But not just on the aero characteristics they display on the road, but from how their body type translates to track cycling. It may be the case that similar to rowing, a certain size of athlete is particularly gifted at these very specific disciplines in cycling. I’m pretty sure British Cycling have got this sorted already, those team pursuit riders look very similar indeed. It looks like Brad’s centre of gravity travels approx 5m less per lap than his track speed, which would mean in a 55 km Brad only travels 53.9km, while if he rode 55km in a straight line on the road, his body would also travel 55km. I was always told “you’ll go quicker on the track than anywhere else”, this may have been true, due to the reduced distance & work required caused by the banking. All this does is explain a strange quirk of track cycling, which the cycling geek may like, others, well, they stopped reading a long time ago.

 

Hour Record – Pre-Wiggins attempt

Embed from Getty ImagesAlex Dowsett was the fourth rider to break the mens record after the recent rule change, he followed Jens Voigt (51.115km), Matthias Brändle (51.852km) & Rohan Dennis (52.491km). Dowsett seemed to be the least physically stressed by his record-breaking ride, nearly punching through the 53km barrier with 52.937km covered in the hour on the Manchester Velodrome. On Sunday we are being treated to the most anticipated attempt, that of Bradley Wiggins, who most expect to blow the record apart with talk of going above 55km, I’m not so sure.

Things are trickier for Brad, he wants to put the record out of sight for a while, having stated that he’s only going to attempt it once, this is in stark contrast to the manner in which Dowsett attacked the record, pegging the previous one & accelerating at the end. It’s a very different thing to ride within yourself for an hour, only needing to beat the current record by a few metres in order to succeed, than to ride the entire hour on the limits of your physical ability. The Wiggins attempt is more along the lines of the Jack Bobridge one, where he went out incredibly hard when he should have just been pegging the current record & seeing what he had left at the end. We can safely assume that Brad, the seasoned & vastly experienced campaigner that he is, can pace himself better than anybody, plus his support team should be at least on par with Dowsett’s, who looked superb & controlled things perfectly. So it’s unlikely that we’ll see any similar  ‘blowing up’ on Sunday, but here lies Brad’s problem.

Wiggins Problems

If Wiggins rides on his absolute limit, he runs the risk of imploding, if he runs slightly below his absolute limit, he may leave the door open for somebody else to have a go in the near future. I suspect he want’s to knock this record out of the park, which is where the danger lies as Dowsett looked like he had plenty left in the tank. I suspect he’ll play it slightly safe & ride his tried & tested negative split style, gradually increasing pace as the hour progresses. Different to Dowsett’s highly succesful tactic, ride at record pace for the majority then accelerate. Brad can’t do this if he wants to smash the record by a significant margin. Wiggins is riding to beat future attempts, not past ones.

There’s another potential spanner in the works, as one of the most knowledgable authorities on hour records, Michael Hutchinson (@doctor_hutch) said on twitter today. He reckons atmospheric conditions are not favourable for Wiggins, plus the track is slower than Manchester, which in combination he reckons will cost Wiggins a whole kilometre! That’s incredible, but I have to take Doctor Hutch’s word on this, he knows his stuff & I’m pretty sure he’s basing this on genuine data he’s collected. High pressure is forecast, Dowsett set his record in low pressure. This means that the primary inhibitor to forward motion for a cyclist, aerodynamic drag, is higher, it makes a significant difference. It could also cause issues for pacing, if he’s not had the opportunity to test at Sundays pressure, it could force him to ride well within his limits, even gearing down for the harder conditions & slightly slower speed, he may encounter some unknowns.

The Gist Of It

So if we take the above into account, and if we assume that Wiggins was now aiming for something around 55km, then we’ve dropped to 54km for the same power output & the record isn’t looking too far out of reach if Dowsett attacked it again in the next year. It could even open the door for what might be considered an unsporting attempt at altitude by another rider.

I had initially assumed that the Wiggins attempt would kill off the Hour for a few years. But I now think that if Wiggins doesn’t break the 54km barrier, as I suspect, that we may see a new flurry from some more young talented riders in the next couple of years. Things could get interesting.

The record can be seen on the various ways on THIS linked Sky webpage (including youtube), The Cycling Podcast will be covering it live from the Velodrome too, so you’ll not be short of information hopefully. It’s Sunday (7th June) evening between 6:30 & 7:30pm.

 

 

3600 Seconds: Part1

Embed from Getty ImagesThat old fella Jens Voigt ended my ‘199 Laps’ series of blogs, simply by doing more than 199 laps, so I’m carrying on with a more permanent title for the Hour Record blogs, ‘3600 seconds’. A new era of record-breaking has arrived, which I don’t expect to continue in large numbers beyond 2015 (for men anyway) where somebody will put it at a level that will take a momentous effort to beat. Whether that’s Wiggins, or somebody who can beat the performance I think Wiggo is capable of, the record will be stratospheric in a years time. My archive of Hour Record blogs is HERE.

Quick Update

Jens Voigt was first to have a go at the Hour Record after it was reset by the UCI, but we’ve covered that before, plenty of times (check out my Hour Record archive for more info). He covered 51.110km on the 18th September 2014 at the 250m Velodrome Suisse in Grenchen, that’s a fine start to rebirth of this record, not quite as fast as the mark set by Francesco Moser of 51.151km in 1984. Followed by what one must assume was a nice retirement party & the obligatory watch was hopefully presented, quite fitting for what he’d just done. Then, on 30th October 2014 we had a rider I had little or no knowledge about, Matthias Brändle. He broke Jens record with 51.852km on the short 200m track at The World Cycling Centre (Aigle, Switzerland).

Since then we’ve had several riders talking about attempts (hopefully outside Switzerland for a change), thankfully including one woman, here’s a run down on what we have confirmed & what we have rumoured in anticipated chronological order. It’s looking like a lovely year for the Hour Record, plenty of attempts, unless of course, somebody knocks it out of the park very early, which is the trouble with a record attempt, you either win or lose, there is no 2nd place.

  • Jack Bobridge: January 25th, Melbourne
  • Rohan Dennis: February 8th 2015, Velodrome Suisse
  • Alex Dowsett: February 27th, London. (updated)
  • Sarah Storey: February 28th, London (confirmed) 46.065km womens record to beat.
  • Thomas Dekker: rumoured spring 2015
  • Bradley Wiggins: June 2015, likely London.
  • Alex Rasmussen: rumoured Autumn 2015, likely Copenhagen
  • Rasmus Quaade: likely Copenhagen
  • Ondrej Sosenka: Date unconfirmed, likely Moscow.

The Women

The 2003 record set by Leontien Zijlaard-Van Moorsel will be first assaulted at the Olympic velodrome in London by a rider with too long a palmarès to list, Sarah Storey. She’ll go at the Revolution meeting on 28th February, the target to reach is 46.065km. For old timers, that’s as fast as riding a ’25’ in 52 minutes, but I think Storey will break it, possibly by no more than a km. Actually I hope it’s not by too much, an incredible performance at the first attempt may put the womens record on the shelf, I’d like to see as much interest as there has been from the men (hold a little back for the rematch Sarah). There could be a multitude of riders capable, tried & tested track riders like Sarah Hammer & wild cards like accomplished time triallist Emma Pooley might promote their tri-bike to another audience with a rapid hour (remember she took silver in the Glasgow 2014 TT only a few months ago).

The Men

Looking at the above list, it’s highly likely we’ll not see an attempt by Rasmussen later in the year, the record will likely be well out of reach by then. We can probably also discount Rasmus Quaade unless he does it very soon. Ondrej Sosenka, who held the ‘Athletes Hour’ & was later caught for doping, also looks unlikely, he needs to wait a while until he has some biological passport data after his break, so he may have ditched plans already. That leaves us with some high quality riders who can all set a very high mark, by March this record will only be taken seriously by the riders at the very top of the sport, in their very top condition. There’s plenty of online chat about Tony Martin, but I don’t believe he’ll ever hold this record. His style won’t work well on the track even if he produces more power than everybody else & could smash them in a straight line, the Hour Record is a different beast, it rewards a mixture of souplesse & power.

The Gist Of It

An incredible year ahead & at last the Hour has come back into the spotlight. The mens may be considered unbeatable by June, but the womens may become more interesting during the second half of the year. If Sarah Storey gets plenty of press it may spur some others into having a go. The womens peloton may be more open to embracing it in future as they attempt to increase their earning power & try to add additional value to sponsors, to a side of the sport given much less TV time & publicity than almost every mens discipline. A great year ahead, but those 3600 seconds will be some very painful & memorable ones for the riders.

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 (pt5)

Embed from Getty Images

Bradley Wiggins was reported earlier today as competing in two track events at Glasgow’s Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome at the 2014 Commonwealth Games. This later changed to just one event, the Team Pursuit with no Individual Pursuit planned for the former Tour champion. What are we to make of this decision, is he shunning his old friend, I doubt it, he has other plans, it’s about time for a bit more wild speculation to add to my previous beardy ideas….

After many reports of seeing Brad training on a GB pursuit bike since his public exclusion from the Sky Tour de France team, I had perhaps incorrectly assumed he was out to prove something with a world standard pursuit ride at Glasgow. I’d have no doubt that if he put his mind to it, Wiggins could certainly still record such a time, but that would involved much shorter & harder training sessions, which would likely have a detrimental effect on his time trial form for the rest of 2014.

I think we’ll see him go on to attempt an Hour Record ride in a short space of time after Glasgow, obviously that period of time will depend on form, I doubt even he knows. The current revised UCI Hour Record ride is within relatively easy reach of a rider such as Wiggins, if you can complete 199 laps within the Hour, or 49.75km, you’ve got it, all on a UCI regulation conforming pursuit bike. Exactly like the one he’s been doing Team Pursuit efforts on, which require high power output & fast recovery, also ideal for muscle adaptation for rattling out a high power output for an hour on the bankings.

It all makes sense now, taking time out for pursuit training would have made a bigger dent in his road season, ditching that one event complements his other goals, such as Worlds TT & the Hour Record. The beauty of the Hour Record, is that he can pick & choose the date when he’s in form & attempt to knock it out of the park for a Cancellara attempt. Whoever goes first will get it, but whoever goes second is under a much greater amount of stress. These guys can’t really fail to ride 50km in an hour, but every km above that gets harder & harder, the advantage is in going first. Time is slowly running out to become that first rider with others expressing interest.

Having looked at the long-range weather forecast, there may be a chance of low temperatures & rain on the date of the time trial in Glasgow. So to add to the speculation which always surrounds Bradley these days, I’d suggest that he may still start, but it’ll depend on the weather. Normally he probably wouldn’t be bothered, but if he’s on a specific plan to a specific goal, then a cold ride like that could set him back, it’s better to train by yourself than to risk illness.

A possible time trial victory in Glasgow, closely followed by an Hour Record ride, set against an underperforming Sky team at the Tour de France is a good marketing opportunity for a UK rider attempting to raise their public profile. Watch this space & we’ll probably only hear a week before he’s booked the London Velodrome for his ride.

Previous Outrageous Hour Record Speculation below:

 

New Hour Record Rules

Embed from Getty Images

Cycling Weekly today reported that the UCI are changing everything again. We’ll be reverting to one record, removing the rather silly ‘Athletes Hour’ on a Merckx type bike. We knew changes were happening, but this clarifies some things, I’m sure there will be more to come soon from the UCI, Obree will be smiling quietly thinking up a plan.

What do we know?

So far, according to Cycling Weekly, the 49.7km record of Sosenka (although caught for doping later) will be the target for any future attempts. This appears to indicate that all distances recorded on bikes that don’t meet current rules have been removed & we’ll continue with a clean slate so to speak, but having held the record will still be recorded, confusing eh!

Unfortunately for those who’ve gone further than this distance, on ‘Superman’, ‘Obree-Tuck’ & funny bikes with aero advances will not be valid, neither apparently will Mosers original record (although we now know he was blood-doping, which wasn’t banned at the time), or Indurain & Romingers. So it seems like the record books may show these as holders of the Hour Record, but we’ll not see a distance in the record book perhaps. Or will they be deleted all together?

The UCI had a tricky problem, advances had taken the record so far away from what was currently possible that nobody was attempting it, apart from that 100-year-old French superstar. It would be unfair to scrub the Hour Record holders from the books, but their distances will not be valid. We’ll start fresh with an achievable distance & the floodgates will hopefully open for a number of challenges on the record by a good number of riders.

This is actually quite exciting stuff for the cycling fan, it could be a very interesting year ahead. But does anybody apart from the UCI know when the rules change, on that day you can expect a number of riders to go for it & seal their place in history, but current UCI rules only allow one attempt in any given day, will that change too?

Will Graeme be brazing something up in his kitchen already?

Book Review: ‘The Race Against Time’ by Edward Pickering.

TheRaceAgainstTimeThe 90’s era in Cycling Weekly was dominated by Obree V Boardman. The internet was still slow & although information was available, it wasn’t in the quantity & quality we can access now. There was therefore plenty of information that we didn’t or couldn’t access, as Ed Pickering has shown in this book, that chasm was vast & incredibly interesting.

You don’t often read a book where you’ve met most of the characters, or been present at some of the ‘scenes’, but for many of us who were involved in cycling at that time, this is very much the case in the small enclosed world of cycling. Prior to the glossy world of lottery funding & a properly organised British Cycling setup (compared to the old BCF), everything & everybody was accessible & we thought we knew what as going on. What this book shows is that we really didn’t know the half of it!

The book mostly covers Boardman & Obree, with a bit more emphasis on the man from the Wirral. It shows how intertwined their careers & motivations were, while blowing apart some of the misconceptions about their personalities & thought processes. Obree’s position bans by the UCI are covered, along with the planned career progression of Boardman, contrasting with the short-term goal based strategy of Obree. We learn how & why each couldn’t really have done things differently. We also have the significant figures in the story of Peter Keen, Colin Sturgess, Mike Burrows & Doug ‘Doog’ Dailey. Pickering has interviewed all these people in the process of writing the book & the interactions with Keen are of particular interest to those who wonder just how the Olympic success came about.

Keen was Boardman’s coach, who later moved on to occupy the position that we all know belonged to Dave Brailsford, often forgetting who set the programme up & put the foundations in place to win the Tour with Wiggins. Without Keen, the success of the entire BC system would not have functioned, we would have something very different & much less successful.

Sturgess was the prodigious talent who pops up every now & again in the book, absolutely scaring the hell out of Boardman on several occasions with his physical ability. Burrows interviews are always very good, Pickering gets a lot out of him & I think we can all benefit from listening to what he says, a man who can visualise problems in a very different way, similar but also unlike Obree (it’s all in the book, too hard to explain in a blog). Doug Dailey is pivotal, we learn that without him in place at BC, Obree may never have got the chances he deserved & the success story may also not have transpired as it did. The book puts all this in perspective, the movers & shakers, who maybe didn’t have the plan you thought they did, they were just doing the correct things as they saw it, adding to the mix which somehow resulted in huge successes.

I’ve got a healthy dislike for flat time trials, so I was hoping that this book didn’t dwell on this too much, but this isn’t the case. There’s plenty of references to times, but the bread & butter of the book is Hour Records, national & international pursuit championships & the progression through the ranks of cycling. For Boardman that meant the Tour de France, which is covered later in the book, while Obree accounts his ‘shortest pro cycling career’ of approximately 12 hours. We also have some discussion on EPO & the effects it had on the careers of many, positive & negative to many who were using & not using these substances. I’ll leave all the anecdotes from the various characters to the book, it really is worth a read. It describes an era defined by two competing riders, it’s the definitive story of those times & I can see me picking it up in 20 years time & getting just as much out of it.

It says on the back it’s available on e-book & it’s published by Bantam Press, go & get it,  I’m only doing reviews of books I really like.

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)

199 Laps (pt2)

I was blogging previously about Wiggins goal being the Hour record, rather than the Worlds TT, I think I’m more sure now.

Previous blog here: 199 Laps (pt1)

Behaviour

From what I’m seeing in the Tour of Britain, Wiggins doesn’t look like somebody who’s making the types of efforts we’d expect from somebody peaking & tapering for a World Championship. Wiggins is riding incredibly well, but all his efforts appear to be at or near threshold, apart from a bit of grimacing following Dan Martin & Quintana in the rain early on. It appears much earlier in the training programme than a just over a week before a major event. We’ve seen Wiggins disappear to training camps before major objectives in order to follow Sky’s strict training plans without the influence of other riders during races. So we’ve seen total control before, this time we see him riding a stage race in the period we’d expect to see him doing some specific training.

Yesterday, Wiggins took control on the lower slopes of Haytor leading up to the finale of the stage taken in impressive style by Simon Yates, who’s reportedly joining Orica Greenedge with his brother Adam. Rather than sitting on the hoods, Wiggins was riding on the drops, I immediately thought ‘muscular adaptation’. If I’m correct in this, we’ll see Wiggins adopt the drop bar position on more climbs, this is how you train your muscles to operate under load in an extreme position, like the Hour record. Wiggins looked very aero, would be interesting if any photo detail spotters can see any change in his position recently, bar width, position etc, as if he’s adapting to an Hour position, there would likely be some recent differences.

What to make of this?

There’s not much evidence, but a season goal of the TT Worlds doesn’t look like the actual goal to me, this weeks focus doesn’t appear to suggest that. It may be more likely that the Tour of Britain was a goal along the way to the Hour, with a medal in the TT Worlds as a bonus. The Hour is very controllable, he can do it whenever he likes, he can hide away & train specifically for it, then highlight the opening of the London velodrome with a record. If we look at it in ‘Sky’ way, it’s what they’re used to doing. The Hour is a simpler goal than racing against other riders, the target is set, nobody is going to go for it before him, if he can produce the power he can break the record. To get his confidence back, this is a goal that can be planned, if he gets ill he can put it back a week & keep it quiet from the press until the date is nearly upon us, could it be before Christmas?

Why wouldn’t he go for it?

I’m on Twitter HERE

Find me on Facebook HERE

You can email me directly on the ‘ABOUT‘ link above.

199 Laps

When a rider such as Wiggins decides that a weight penalty of (reportedly) an additional 8kg is for winning the Worlds time trial, when he’s beaten the opposition at his low le Tour weight, we know there’s something else going on, could it be a UCI record attempt?

Recent Patterns

We saw Brad winning the Tour de Pologne TT by some margin, this was over a distance of 37km, it took him approx 47 minutes, in this event he beat Taylor Phinney by a margin of 1min 14seconds. Roll on a couple of weeks & we see him finish 5th but beat Phinney by the much reduced margin of 2 seconds in the Eneco Tour, but in a much shorter & punchier 13km effort. When we wonder why he’s putting on some extra weight right now, the answer could be glaringly obvious, he’s preparing his body to withstand an hour & 400 velodrome bankings at 50kmh, it’s very hard to do that if you’re skin & bones like the 2012 Tour Wiggo. I’ve blogged previously about how reduced weight leads to reduced cross-section of arms, body, legs etc, resulting in reduced aerodynamic drag, we know Wiggins can TT with the best at his Tour winning weight, so putting that weight back on (as muscle) can mean only one thing to me, a dual objective to salvage & make his season exceptional, to bow out on a glittering career as I’ve suggested previously. I think he’s on for a pop at the UCI Hour Record, to write his name into that record book too.

The Worlds TT is 57.2km, he’s doing that in full aero kit, so the comparable time could be just over the hour, the double objective is so close physiologically, that it would be an opportunity to miss. This could explain why he’s not so good against the opposition over the shorter distance like in the Eneco TT, he’s possibly not training for that distance at all, so going into the higher zone over a shorter distance isn’t going to show him at his best, CP16 Versus CP60 for those power nerds (including me).

Why Muscle?

If you’ve ever ridden behind a Derny at 50kmh on a 250m track for a few minutes, you’ll understand what it takes to do that for an hour. The first visit to the track after you’ve been riding road for a few months is usually quite painful, not just in the legs, but arms, hands, neck & back, the G-Forces you encounter are something you just don’t have to deal with on the road, it’s a different sport.

To counter that you’ll find a lot of the to track riders carry a bit extra muscle in order to ensure they can deal with the additional forces the track applies to you, when riders leave the track to ride road again, they try to lose that extra upper body bulk, it’s not doing anything to help you in road races, in fact, quite the opposite. We can assume that his body fat percentage will be as low as possible to reduce drag, he could potentially go even lower as the temperature is carefully controlled in a velodrome record attempt, there’s no risk of getting chilled.

Where & When?

London would be the incredibly likely venue for a Wiggins Hour attempt, it’s due to open for public on March 4th, a precursor to that could be a Brad Wiggins Hour attempt, otherwise it would likely be Manchester. I can’t see him missing the opportunity to perform in front of his ‘home’ crowd at London, if he goes for it I’d expect it to be London.

The Worlds time trial is on 23rd September, I doubt that an attempt would be within 2 weeks of that, there’s probably a fair amount of adaptation to do, to get from tri-bars to drop bars & adapt to riding those for an hour at that speed, it can’t be done overnight. He can use this time to also reduce weight & possibly train exclusively at a currently ‘closed to public’ velodrome after the Worlds?

The Record

The current record is 49.7 km, so he’ll need to do about 199 laps to beat it, the magical 50km & 200 laps in one hour is right there as the big carrot. The UCI somewhat ruined the Hour Record when they introduced their current bizarre rules which negated years of technological developments & put the Hour Record back a few years. They wanted everybody compared to Eddy Merckx, but as we know, historical comparisons are pretty useless as there are so many different factors, sports science, diet, aerodynamics etc. So wouldn’t it be lovely if Wiggins, along with going for the ‘Athletes Hour’, also went for the UCI’s ‘Best Human Effort’ record of 56.375 km (held by Chris Boardman), which allows riders to use what would be a UCI legal pursuit bike & position.

For the ‘Athletes Hour’, Wiggins would have to use a non aero frame, shallow rims, a helmet within an agreed standard & dropped bars. So we could see an additional marketing opportunity for Pinarello to produce a special ultimate steel bike, “As used by Bradley Wiggins”. If this record attempt is actually going ahead & not just a figment of my imagination, the bike probably already exists, in BC’s secret squirrel lab & Brad’s already been in the wind tunnel on it.

What Will Happen Next?

If it’s on, you’ll not hear about it, I think they’ll wait until just after the Worlds and announce something then, possibly in October. I could be very wrong, but I find it hard to work out why else Brad would be putting on extra weight when he can potentially beat the likes of Cancellara at his Tour weight. It’ll all come out in the wash, but it would be a fitting finale to his season, it would turn an entire year of disappointments right around & leave him in the position to move on or stick out another year of classics & other objectives.

I’m on Twitter HERE

Find me on Facebook HERE

You can email me directly on the ‘ABOUT‘ link above.