Tag Archives: The Hour

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.

Jensie’s Hour

The Jens Voigt Retirement Publicity Tour has been cranking along at full gas all season, just like the man himself, and his latest headline-grabbing move is a shot at the Hour record.

Credit to Jensie, there’s been plenty of chat about having a go from big names *cough Cancellara cough* but nothing has materialised. At least Jens is following through with his attempt.

Of course, on the velodrome there’s nowhere to hide – you’re either good enough or you’re not. There’s no tactics, teamwork or treacherous conditions to blame. It’s all down to the rider, on the day. Just you against history.

Pretty scary.

The UCI’s decision to change the regulations and allow modern track bikes was ostensibly the reason for Cancellara to cancel, but it does mean that riders making the attempt have all the advantages of modern equipment to help them.

The Hour has a complicated history.

The UCI Hour record is Ondřej Sosenka’s 49.7km, set in Moscow in 2005, on a bike strictly regulated to match that used by Eddy Merckx in 1972.

The UCI’s “Best Human Effort” record is held by Chris Boardman, at 56.375km, set in Manchester in 1996, on a carbon monocoque frame in a position that has since been outlawed.

The UCI has recently decided that Sosenka’s record is the ‘true’ record, but that it will no longer restrict bike design, other than requiring that the bike conforms to the current UCI track regulations.

That means carbon monocoques, aero tube profiles, pursuit bars and tuck positions, disc wheels and aero helmets. These huge technical advantages mean Sosenka’s record looks like a certain casualty.

Boardman’s record doesn’t count, because the ‘Superman’ position he used is not legal under current UCI regulations.

With new equipment allowed, the first rider to attempt the record stands a pretty good chance of getting it, even if it just sets a modern mark for everyone else to aim at.

For his part, Jens is not wasting any time preparing – he’s making his attempt on September 18th, in Grenchen, Switzerland. He’s already in training on the track.

Tickets can be purchased.

It will be televised.

Presumably his sponsor Trek will be knocking up a custom track rig (as far as I can tell the American company doesn’t currently market a track bike), and he won’t be going down the Graeme Obree route of building his own bike out of spare parts.

UPDATE: Jens will be riding a custom Trek – basically a modified time trial bike with 120mm rear-facing track ends and a sweet paint job.

Grenchen sits at at altitude of around 450m above sea level, not exactly high altitude like Mexico City or Aguascalientes, where several world records were set at the World Cup meet in late 2013.

So it’s a short preparation, he’s not a renowned time trialist, and his attempt is not at altitude.

I think it’s fair to say that any mark he sets will be an enticing target for the likes of Cancellara, Tony Martin, Bradley Wiggins or even a younger rider like Taylor Phinney, Tom Dumoulin or Rohan Dennis. Hopefully it’s the first in a string of attempts that really take the record forward.

Anyway, I’m looking forward to seeing what one of cycling’s most popular characters can do on his way out of the sport, and it’s fantastic to have The Hour back on the agenda. It’s been too long.

Go Jens!