The Year of the Hour Record

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The Hour Record: Cycling’s Oldest and Most Prestigious Record

2014 saw a renewed interest in an old record, the Hour Record.

First done by Henri Desgrange, the man who would later create the Tour de France, in 1893 (his record was 35.325 km), the Hour Record drew the imagination of the best cyclists in the world and has been held by greats like Eddy Merckx and Fausto Coppi.  But due to an odd rule change by the UCI, the Hour Record has been of little interest for the last decade.

In 2000, the UCI based a rule for the Hour Record that froze the record in time.  This new rule required riders to use equipment similar to that used by Eddy Merckx when he set his Hour Record in 1972 (49.431 km).  This new rule wiped our subsequent Hour Records including Chris Boardman’s impressive 56.375 km attempt in 1996.

In the spring of 2014, interest in the Hour Record was reignited by a UCI rule change that allowed for the use of modern track bikes, basically resetting the record book.  This rule change has sparked renewed interest in the Hour Rider amongst riders, teams and sponsors and has made the Hour Record cycling’s most prestigious record once again.

The Race for the Hour Record

With renewed interest in the Hour Record, the race is on to set a lasting mark.

Jens Voigt started things off by finishing his career in style by beating the Ondrej Sonsenka’s record of 49.7 km in September.  But the dust from Voigt’s attempt had hardly settled before Matthias Braendle beat his mark and set the Hour Record as it currently stands at 51.85 km.

It now appears that Voigt and Braendle were only the first it what looks to be a long line of attempts.  Next up is Jack Bobridge on January 31, 2015.  The Australian is the current world record holder in the Individual Pursuit and he hopes to use his track experience to set an Hour Record that will make people think twice before having a go.

“I’m aiming to set a benchmark that leaves everyone questioning themselves about whether they want to do it or not.” – Jack Bobridge

Fellow Aussie, Rohann Dennis will follow Bobridge and attempt the Hour Record on February 8th on the same track used by Voigt.  And the attempts keep coming in quick succession with Brits Alex Dowsett and Sarah Storey (going for the women’s record) having goes at the Hour Record at the end of February.

Thomas Dekker has also expressed an interest in attempting the Hour Record in a bid to earn a pro contract for the 2015 season.

So far Bradley Wiggins is the biggest name to throw his hat into the ring with his attempt coming sometime during summer 2015.  The multiple time Olympic medal winner on the track, Tour de France champion, and World Time Trial champion seems a favorite to set an Hour Record that will be tough to beat.

There have been rumblings that other big names like Tony Martin and Fabian Cancellara are planning attempts but nothing has been confirmed.

Personally, I am looking forward to Jack Bobridge’s Hour Record attempt in January.  Not only is it on my birthday but I think his track pedigree will translate well in this event.  Plus, he is an unknown factor having struggled to make it on the road in Europe.  I am also looking forward to Wiggins’ attempt because I am expecting him to set a smashing mark, maybe even challenge Boardman’s unofficial Hour Record of 56.375 km.

Is there someone’s Hour Record attempt you are looking forward to?  Who do you think will hold the Hour Record when the dust settles in 2015?

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