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Following on from this week’s announcement that the UCI will shelve the requirement for hour record attempts to be set on bikes similar to those ridden by Eddy Merckx when he broke the mark in 1972, Fabian Cancellara and the Trek Factory Racing team have suspended the Swiss rider’s own attempt on the record.
Cancellara had said trying to break the current record was a goal he was likely to aim for this year, and in recent days there was speculation that he could was on the verge of announcing the date he will go for the hour.
However today saw a very different sort of announcement, with the team citing the new UCI decision as being the reason why the attempt was on hold for now. That new UCI rule states that bikes will be deemed legal as long as they satisfy the current regulations for track endurance machines.
“At this point we need to assess the situation,” said general manager Luca Guercilena today. “We’ve invested many resources, both human and financial, to prepare for an attempt and we need to evaluate in which way, if any, we proceed.
“We are satisfied that the UCI has now stipulated clear regulations about the Hour Record, as there was already some speculation about it, but we need to examine what it means for our project, which so far has been focused on breaking the Merckx record.”
Merckx rode 49.431 kilometres in 1972. Under the UCI’s decision to rewind technology to more closely match that used by Merckx, Chris Boardman beat that mark in 2000. He covered 49.441 kilometres, a mark which stood until Ondrej Sosenka covered 49.7 kilometres in 2005.
While there had been a substantial push recently from within the industry for a relaxation of the UCI’s previous limitations on what bikes could be used, with some saying it stifled progress, Cancellara said that there was an attraction in chasing the old mark.
“The whole appeal of the hour record for me is that you are competing against riders from the past. I would have loved to race Eddy (Merckx) in the Classics, or in a time trial, but it’s not possible,” he said in the statement.
The team made clear that as Trek’s desire to develop its bikes was one goal in owning a WorldTour team, that it believed that technological innovation has a place in cycling.
However Guercilena agreed with Cancellara that there was also an attraction in chasing the past.
“Above all, we need to look at the athlete here,” he said. “For Fabian, the idea of attempting the hour had a historical motivation all along. The record of Eddy Merckx has inspired him to step into this project. It takes great character to contemplate fitting this feat into his normal race program. The nature of ‘the hour’ has changed now because the historical perspective has changed.”
Cancellara isn’t ruling out aiming for the record at a later date, but said that he, the team and its sponsor need to weigh up things and then make a decision.
“The hour record has this charming side to it that I like a lot. Now it’s going to be different. I’m not against technological innovation, everyone knows that. It’s why I spend so much time testing road bikes with Trek. And it’s also why we’ve invested time and money in developing the best Merckx-style bike.”
“We had some plans semi-ready but right now we need to think about the whole project again. We will discuss everything within the team and with Trek.”