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by Shane Stokes
January 7, 2015
Battling for both a place in history and also for a future in the sport, Thomas Dekker will seek to resurrect his career when he attempts the world hour record at the end of February.
The Dutchman’s intention to chase the hallowed mark was previously made public but on Tuesday further details finally emerged in relation to the bid. Dekker will become the first of the current batch of riders to make use of high altitude conditions during his attempt, having decided to throw down the gauntlet on the Aguascalientes velodrome in Mexico.
This is 2000 metres above sea level and could result in faster times, providing he gives himself sufficient time to acclimatise.
Both Eddy Merckx and Francesco Moser set their hour records in on the Agustín Melgar track in Mexico.
The latest details were released Tuesday by RTV NH, although a precise date has not yet been revealed.
Dekker said that he was confident of putting in a successful bid. “In the meantime there are still a few others to make an effort, but I can get it,” he predicted.
Interest in the record was renewed after the election of the UCI president Brian Cookson. He and others in the new-look UCI decided to relax the previous rigorous rules, thus allowing riders to use newer and faster machines.
This led to the first attempt in many years, with Jens Voigt covering 51.115 kilometres on September 19 in Grenchen, Switzerland. Next up was the Austrian rider Matthias Brandle, who improved the mark to 51.850 on October 30 in the UCI’s World Cycling Centre in Aigle.
Since then Jack Bobridge, Rohan Dennis and Alex Dowsett have announced that they will aim for the record. Bobridge’s bid will take place in Melbourne’s DISC velodrome on January 31, while Dennis will make his attempt in Grenchen, Switzerland on February 8. Dowsett’s attempt in London will come 19 days after the latter bid, with Dekker’s attempt likely to occur around the same time.
The Dutchman was once seen as one of the biggest talents in the peloton, winning races such as the 2006 Tirreno–Adriatico and the 2007 Tour de Romandie. However shortly before the start of the 2009 Tour de France, it was announced that he had tested positive for EPO.
The test had been conducted on a urine sample taken in December 2007, and the rider later admitted to using the substance during periods in 2007 and 2008
He was suspended for two years, from 1 July 2009 to 30 June 2011. After his return he spent three years with the Garmin-Sharp team. His results were more modest than before, although he helped other riders to win.
He found out this autumn that his contract would not be renewed and, on November 11, declared that he would attempt the hour record. He saw it as a way of trying to secure a new contract for 2015.
“It will be one of the hardest tests of my life, but that does not matter to me,” he told AD.nl then. “I’m not afraid of it. I will put everything else aside in the next few months. I will put everything I have into that one hour.
“Am I’m going to make it? Yes, of course I’m going to make it.”
The truth of that statement will be determined in less than two months’ time, at which point Bobridge, Dennis or Dowsett may well have raised the bar higher.
Other riders expected to attack the record this year include Alex Rasmussen, Rasmus Quaade and Bradley Wiggins. Dates are yet to be announced for those bids.