Rohan and Jack, for an Hour

Rohan Dennis announced overnight that he will be attempting the Hour Record in 2015. He’s the second Australian this week to announce an attempt, coming a day after Jack Bobridge made a similar announcement.

They’ll make their attempts a week apart: Bobridge on January 31st, Dennis on February 8th, on opposite sides of the world.

This is the rivalry many Aussie fans will have been dreaming of: Bobridge the World Record holder for the individual pursuit, who has returned to the track to prepare for a serious tilt at Rio 2016 after years of (probably) unfulfilled potential in the World Tour; Dennis the former World Champion in the team pursuit, who’s been lighting up the pro road and time trial scene in a big way.

Dennis is now riding for Swiss-American mega-budget team BMC after a mid-2014 switch from Garmin-Sharp.

Bobridge is riding for the humble Australian Continental team Budget Forklifts, after stints at the top level with Belkin/Blanco and Orica-GreenEdge. In fact, the entire Australian track endurance squad has joined Budget Forklifts in a partnership with the national high performance programme, to make sure that the riders are free to concentrate on their track ambitions in the lead-up to Rio.

Dennis has stated that he is aiming to ride 53km (Matthias Brändle’s current record stands at 51.852km), which is probably what’s required given that Britain’s time trialling guns Alex Dowsett and Sir Bradley Wiggins are expected to announce their own attempts.

Dennis will make his attempt on February 8th in Grenchen, Switzerland, saying: 

“When I look at my experience on the track and the numbers I have been doing on the track and on the road, it is within reach. As long as I don’t get too excited at the start and control my nerves, the pacing will take care of itself.”

I think he’s probably right.

UPDATED: Bobridge will make his attempt on January 31 at DISC indoor velodrome in Melbourne – which I think gives him a good shot at claiming the record, but it’s anybody’s guess whether he can go further than Dennis. Certainly Bobridge’s track pedigree is impeccable, but his results on the road and in time trials over the past few years (he has struggled with rheumatoid arthritis) do not match those of his younger compatriot.

On first glance, Dennis seems to have the edge – a rider clearly on the rise, backed by a huge team budget, with all the technical and coaching benefits that entails, compared to Bobridge’s team which probably has an annual budget totalling less than it costs BMC to ride one Grand Tour.

But Bobridge seems energised by a return to the track, and a return to the AIS track programme which worked so well for him in the past. Budget Forklifts may only be a local team (although it is consistently one of the top teams in the NRS) but it has the sports science backing of the AIS, one of the best in the world.

Perhaps this is the moment where Bobridge reminds us all why he was once considered Australia’s next great cyclist.

Either way, fingers crossed for an Australian holder of the Hour, for the first time ever. Perhaps we could even have two.

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