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by Shane Stokes
February 26, 2015
Aiming to become the fourth rider in five months to break the UCI hour record, Thomas Dekker will make his attempt on the mark today in the Aguascalientes velodrome in Mexico.
The Dutchman, currently without a contract after his deal with Garmin-Sharp was not renewed at the end of last season, is hoping that a successful tilt at the record will lead to a new ride for 2015.
Dekker is 30 years of age and wants to use his effort to prove he has more to offer. Once regarded as one of the biggest young talents in the sport, he won 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.
Following a two year suspension, he was eligible to return after June 20 2011. He returned to racing on July 6 of that year with the Chipotle Development Team, Garmin-Barracuda’s feeder squad, and then moved to the WorldTour squad for the 2012 seasons.
He spent three years there and while his results were more modest than before, he had some solid showings and helped other riders to win.
Dekker believes he can yet return to a higher level and wants to use the hour record to try to earn another chance.
The current spate of attempts began with Jens Voigt on September 19 in Grenchen, Switzerland, where the German rider set a new mark of 51.115 kilometres.
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.
Two Australian attempts followed: on January 31 Jack Bobridge attacked Brandle’s mark in Melbourne’s DISC velodrome, but appeared to start too quickly and had to settle for 51.3 kilometres.
However on February 8 Rohan Dennis got his pacing right and blasted home with a distance of 52.491 kilometres.
Dekker had anticipated that Dennis might be the record holder by the time he made his own attempt, and told CyclingTips last month that going for the hour in Mexico was his only chance of success.
“Normally the facts speak for themselves. Nine of the fifteen world records on the track are in Aguascalientes and normally with the altitude, despite there being less oxygen, it is one of the fastest tracks in the world. I think it is a big benefit.”
“To be honest, a guy like Rohan Dennis showed in the last years that he is a better cyclist than me, especially in the time trial. He also has much more track experience. So one of my only chances is to get it over there because I have the advantage of the altitude while he is doing it in Grenchen, the track of BMC.”
Both Eddy Merckx and Francesco Moser utilised altitude to clock their own hour records. They used the Agustín Melgar track in Mexico, being successful in 1972 and 1984.
In contrast to the hour record bids of Voigt, Brandle, Bobridge and Dennis, the UCI is not screening Dekker’s hour record attempt. Instead it is being covered by Eurosport in Europe.
Come back later for a report on how Dekker fared.
Also see: Dekker – Dennis a better rider but doing hour at altitude could be key