Motorcus on the Track  photo:Panoramic

Motorcus and the Hour Record

Motorcus and the Hour Record

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There is nothing going on right now, oh right, except the Tour of Poland. Can we talk?

I don’t think it’s just Frank and myself who are obsessed with the Hour Record. It is Hard Man cycling distilled into its purest form, the ultimate race of truth. During the first week of Tour de France madness Fabian Cancellara made it official he was going for the Hour Record. He has always had a fearsome check list: win all five monuments and reset the hour record. Regarding the five monuments, he has Liège and Lombardia left. Lombardia seems slightly better suited to him but both might require Cancellara to lose some mass and get his climb on or more likely he will win these on Spartacus power alone. Can he forgo kicking ass at Flanders and Roubaix for Liège? He really wants to do the Hour after his Spring 2014 campaign so maybe it’s the Hour in 2014 and Liège in 2015. Did I mention he has a list and a Swiss schedule to keep?

It’s tempting to say the Hour Record will be easier than winning either of those monuments but if setting a new Hour Record was anything but impossible, a few others would have attempted it in the last thirteen years. Fabian is the only rider of his generation who has the will and power to attempt it. People seriously believed he had a damn engine on his bike! He has a master plan for his career and the confidence to put the Hour Record on there. And forget Ondrej Sosenka’s record, it’s his record like those Tour de Frances are Lance’s. Sosenka cleverly bracketed his hour record with doping violations so let’s all agree he is a fraud. Chris Boardman’s record in Manchester of 49.441 km/hr is the number to think about. Yet Chris Boardman and Cancellara could not be much more different as cyclists. Boardman the Olympic pursuit man, Cancellara the passista. Merckx was always at home on the track. Boardman’s pedigree was already going fast on the track, his road palmarès were mostly prologues and time trials. Cancellara has no real professional experience on the track (except crushing opponents’ dreams on the Roubaix track) and he will need to put some time in both the wind tunnel and on the track to get his power position squared away. 

Lance Armstrong had a chance to bolster his career had he attacked the Hour Record. That would have impressed me beyond winning Tours with a whole team at his disposal. Trek even built a bike for him, maybe it’s still around. Fabian has extended his contract with Trek so we know he will be doing it on a Trek track bike. This is not some aero machine, this has to be close to a straight ahead Merckxian Mexico City bike: no aero frame, no deep-section wheels, just good old fashion track handlebars and spoked wheels.

Cancellara had an earlier schedule for the Hour but the IOC foiled it.

They took the individual pursuit out of the Olympic programme. A wrong decision. I would have tried to get on the podium in London in 2012, and then the Hour Record.

We’ll see. I’ll try, but not this year or the next. And not in Italy.”

Yes, not in Italy (?), this will happen in his home country, planned out properly as only the Swiss can. This will be an exciting hour of middle-of-the-night video streaming for the Velominati. I’m already losing sleep over it. One can be sure the Velominati Super Prestige will be going to three decimal places to find a winner.

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// Defining Moments

  1. No deep dish rims? No areo bike? Really?

    Fellow Aussie, Jayson Austin set an M3 (Masters 3) Hour Record in Feb this year and dam close (ok, 400m short) to the numbers you are quoting above for the Elite class: 49.34.545kms. Class act but he did it on discs and an aero frame.

    http://www.nsw.cycling.org.au/default.asp?Page=49302

  2. @razmaspaz I’ve no issue with him neutralising the stage after they all binned it on the Stockeau, those were dangerous conditions outside their control (oil on the descent). It’s more that he’s made some noises since then about what were relatively tame conditions that could be expected (wet weather) being too dangerous.

  3. @Puffy

    No deep dish rims? No areo bike? Really?

    Fellow Aussie, Jayson Austin set an M3 (Masters 3) Hour Record in Feb this year and dam close (ok, 400m short) to the numbers you are quoting above for the Elite class: 49.34.545kms. Class act but he did it on discs and an aero frame.

    http://www.nsw.cycling.org.au/default.asp?Page=49302

    There’s two records, the hour record allows any technical enhancements signed off by the UCI (disc wheels, aero frame, extensions, etc) and then the athlete’s hour, which is just a traditional track bike.

    The second one seems to carry a little more romance due to the fact that it’s more about the rider than the tech.

  4. Please tell me you’ve all read The Hour by Michael Hutchinson?

    Fascinating and very funny history of the event, with his own – hardly-a-spoiler alert – failed attempt thrown in for good measure.

    Superb book.

  5. I still would love to see a TT in a Grand Tour where every rider is on a 8-speed DT shifter classic steel road bike. They could have a drawing for the builders, maybe Sachs and Pegoretti and Serotta, etc, and the winner gets his bike(s) ridden.

    I can dream.

  6. And, Stage 3 Le Tour 2007 never gets old for me. What a ride!

    Music:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aZgOaNnc-jU

    And with P1 & P2:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BJNLMYpr2TM

  7. @TBONE I’m sure some dumbass out there with a Madone 6.9 w/full DA Di2 9000 and PLASTIC PLATFORM PEDALS is thinking, “An hour on a bike? Pfffft, I can do that.”

  8. @richwallonne umm am I missing something? Oh..I remember, it’s the fact that Fabian won E3, then Flanders, then Paris-Roubaix this year. Meanwhile, Sagan has exactly zero monument wins in his career. Sagan is a hilarious, super talented rider with huge potential and a long career ahead, but let’s be honest here; as long as Fabian is around, he’ll always be second fiddle in the classics and monuments.

  9. @Ron

    And, Stage 3 Le Tour 2007 never gets old for me. What a ride!

    Music:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aZgOaNnc-jU

    And with P1 & P2:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BJNLMYpr2TM

    And he did it whilst seated and in the hoods, too!

  10. @blackpooltower

    Please tell me you’ve all read The Hour by Michael Hutchinson?

    Fascinating and very funny history of the event, with his own – hardly-a-spoiler alert – failed attempt thrown in for good measure.

    Superb book.

    A book? Read? No, but I will. Thanks for the recommendation. Must buy more cycling books…

  11. @Gianni

    @blackpooltower

    Please tell me you’ve all read The Hour by Michael Hutchinson?

    Fascinating and very funny history of the event, with his own – hardly-a-spoiler alert – failed attempt thrown in for good measure.

    Superb book.

    A book? Read? No, but I will. Thanks for the recommendation. Must buy more cycling books…

    I’ve read it and recommended it here in the past, its a brilliant book.

  12. On viewing the video of Fabs stomping away from Tomeke up the Muur in 2010 again in Frank’s latest article I find myself hoping that this year he leaves the TT alone at the world champs and concentrates on the road race…would love to see him rocking the bands next year.

  13. And the date is set – August 3, in Mexico.

    http://www.cyclingnews.com/news/cancellara-sets-august-3-date-for-hour-record-bid

  14. @ChrisO And undone… looks like they have lifted the article and replaced with another saying no decision until after the spring classics….

  15. Seems like the rules are changing, which might make the prospect of an attempt more attractive

    http://www.cyclingweekly.co.uk/news/latest-news/hour-record-rule-change-athletes-hour-scrapped-123397

  16. @Geraint

    Seems like the rules are changing, which might make the prospect of an attempt more attractive

    http://www.cyclingweekly.co.uk/news/latest-news/hour-record-rule-change-athletes-hour-scrapped-123397

    I was afraid of this UCI decision. Now no one can compare themselves to the Merckx Hour. It will be who has the best tech and the biggest motor.

  17. @Gianni

    @Geraint

    Seems like the rules are changing, which might make the prospect of an attempt more attractive

    http://www.cyclingweekly.co.uk/news/latest-news/hour-record-rule-change-athletes-hour-scrapped-123397

    I was afraid of this UCI decision. Now no one can compare themselves to the Merckx Hour. It will be who has the best tech and the biggest motor.

    True but if we get back to let technology go forward we will see some amazing times in the future. My worry is that because the UCI has their heads up their aholes their dickering will delay Fabs attempt and screw him and us out of the most awesome attempt?

  18. Also, let Merckx rest atop his mountain, unattainable and untouchable!

  19. @Gianni

    @Geraint

    Seems like the rules are changing, which might make the prospect of an attempt more attractive

    http://www.cyclingweekly.co.uk/news/latest-news/hour-record-rule-change-athletes-hour-scrapped-123397

    I was afraid of this UCI decision. Now no one can compare themselves to the Merckx Hour. It will be who has the best tech and the biggest motor.

    Umm…wasn’t The Prophet’s Hour the best tech and the biggest motor( at the time)? It’s pretty fair to say that there were jumps in technology between Frank Dodds Hour( the first recorded record), and say Oscar Egg( a 3 time holder), on to Coppi and  Anquetil, then on to Eddy. The Hour has been a history of progression of technology in the sport.

  20. @Rob

    Also, let Merckx rest atop his mountain, unattainable and untouchable!

    You make a strong argument right there, but think of Fabs, gripping those track bars, going toe clip to toe clip with Eddy’s time. Oh well, I guess I’m officially an old bastard now. Either way, I hope Fabs, Twiggo and Tony Martin all have at it. Turn it into a drinking game for us viewers!

  21. From my point of view, the Hour was what spurred on true innovation in Cycling; not disc brakes on road bikes, but how do you make this holy union of rider and bike go batshit fast?

    Tuck up into an egg shape? Have at it.

    Spread out like a cartoon cat trying to outrun a rug? Fucking do it.

    The early nineties and the Hour attempts were the most exciting time in Cycling I have experienced and while there was some EPO abuse going on, I think we’ve also learned that a drug like EPO has limited advantages on a one-hour ride, its really on a Grand Tour where it becomes Vitamin E.

    So let the doped and the clean have it out on the fastest bike they can come up with? Fuckin’ hells yeah! The Prophet will remain the Greatest Cyclist of All Time with our without the Hour.

  22. @Haldy

    @Gianni

    @Geraint

    Seems like the rules are changing, which might make the prospect of an attempt more attractive

    http://www.cyclingweekly.co.uk/news/latest-news/hour-record-rule-change-athletes-hour-scrapped-123397

    I was afraid of this UCI decision. Now no one can compare themselves to the Merckx Hour. It will be who has the best tech and the biggest motor.

    Umm…wasn’t The Prophet’s Hour the best tech and the biggest motor( at the time)? It’s pretty fair to say that there were jumps in technology between Frank Dodds Hour( the first recorded record), and say Oscar Egg( a 3 time holder), on to Coppi and Anquetil, then on to Eddy. The Hour has been a history of progression of technology in the sport.

    So…what he said.

  23. @Gianni

    @Rob

    Also, let Merckx rest atop his mountain, unattainable and untouchable!

    You make a strong argument right there, but think of Fabs, gripping those track bars, going toe clip to toe clip with Eddy’s time. Oh well, I guess I’m officially an old bastard now. Either way, I hope Fabs, Twiggo and Tony Martin all have at it. Turn it into a drinking game for us viewers!

    The thought of Fabs going toe to toe with Eddy on the same bike is bike race porn right there! but as the Frahnkster says the hour was a progression of progress and until the 80’s-90’s it was a snails pace of little steps in the improvement of tires and components. I’d say the real advancement came in training and we all know how Eddy trained…

    Then you get the aero revolution combined with the big jumps in materials technology and the thang goes wild.

    It seems the issue is that the change was too fast/dramatic for the sport. Now that we have machines that could weigh less than 5 kilos and configured like a knife blade combined with the training that Fabs obviously does, I bet times will go over 55kph – if the UCI let it go…

    Obviously there has to be some limits, like no fairings etc. but other wise let it go and let the games begin!

    So yes, you old bastid I’ll drink with you.

  24. @frank

    @Haldy

    @Gianni

    @Geraint

    Seems like the rules are changing, which might make the prospect of an attempt more attractive

    http://www.cyclingweekly.co.uk/news/latest-news/hour-record-rule-change-athletes-hour-scrapped-123397

    I was afraid of this UCI decision. Now no one can compare themselves to the Merckx Hour. It will be who has the best tech and the biggest motor.

    Umm…wasn’t The Prophet’s Hour the best tech and the biggest motor( at the time)? It’s pretty fair to say that there were jumps in technology between Frank Dodds Hour( the first recorded record), and say Oscar Egg( a 3 time holder), on to Coppi and Anquetil, then on to Eddy. The Hour has been a history of progression of technology in the sport.

    So…what he said.

    Thanks! :-)

  25. @Rob

    Also, let Merckx rest atop his mountain, unattainable and untouchable!

    Untouchable unless you’re Chris Boardman, that is.

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