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by Shane Stokes
October 23, 2014
After years of stagnation, the battle for the world hour record is very much alive again. A little over a month after Jens Voigt set a new mark of 51.115 kilometres, the Austrian rider Matthias Brandle has confirmed he is planning to attack the record next Thursday at the UCI World Cycling Centre (WCC) velodrome in Aigle, Switzerland.
Brandle is a multiple winner of his national time trial championships and has been with IAM Cycling for the past two seasons. His past victories also include two stages in this year’s Tour of Britian, the points classification in the 2011 Tour de Romandie, the sprints classification in the same race two years later and the mountains classification in the Tour de l’Ain. He also won this year’s Tour de Berne.
Strong against the clock, the 24 year old said that emulating Voigt was one of his motivations.
“I am 100% focused on this project, which is very close to my heart. I have decided to try my luck because I have been impressed by Jens Voigt since I was a young child,” he said today in a UCI statement about the record attempt.
“His personality and style have made a mark on me. To attack over and over again, in all conditions, and fight to exhaustion knowing that the chance of winning is small has also become my trademark. After he made his successful assault on the Hour, I thought he had fulfilled his dream, and within just a few weeks I surprised myself by starting to have the same dream. Just imagine if I have what it takes to fight against the clock and the metres.”
Voigt attacked the record on September 19 in Grenchen, Switzerland, with his 51.115 kilometre distance surpassing the previous record of 49.7 kilometres. This was set by the Czech Ondrej Sosenka on a standard bike on July 19, 2005 in Moscow.
Brandle admits that he is not certain of setting a new mark, but said that he is willing to try. “As of today I do not know whether I can beat the mark or not. But as usual, it will be a very personal struggle between me and the clock,” he said. “And just for that, I am really looking forward to the big day!”
The interest in the hour record has been reinvigorated by the UCI’s decision to relax the previously-stringent rules about the technology which can be used. Under president Pat McQuaid, the UCI said that riders must use equipment similar to that employed by Eddy Merckx when he set the record in 1974.
However after Brian Cookson took over, the Briton indicated that he wanted to bring about a change. The UCI later introduced rules stating that riders could use the same technology allowable for pursuit races on the track.
Cookson hailed the news that another rider will take on the record so soon after Voigt improved the mark. He said that the new interest in the record was due to the changed rules.
“I am delighted that a young rider is interested in attacking the hour record just weeks after Jens Voigt’s stunning performance,” he said.
“This proves that the hour record has again become a dream for athletes, including those of the new generation, as well as for cycling fans. I am convinced that in the future many other riders will attempt to add their names to the prestigious list of legendary hour record holders.”
Brandle’s attempt will take place next Thursday at 7pm local time. The UCI will presumably broadcast the event, as it did with Voigt’s successful effort.