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Starting quickly but losing pace as the effort continued, Thomas Dekker today failed in his bid to break Rohan Dennis’ world hour record.
The Dutchman said beforehand that he hoped that riding at altitude in Mexico would give him the edge but came up short with a distance of 52.221.29 kilometres, approximately 251 metres behind the 52.491 kilometres set by Rohan Dennis on February 8.
Dekker’s pace was quicker than the 51.115 kilometres clocked up by Jens Voigt in Switzerland last September and also better than the 51.850 set by Matthias Brandle on October 30 in the UCI’s World Cycling Centre in Aigle.
However Dennis’ pace was too much to match and the Australian thus retains his position as current record holder.
“Sorry. I’m not that far off,” Dekker said immediately afterwards, according to Wielerland.
“Beforehand I knew it was going to be tricky. Rohan Dennis is such a good rider. He is one of the big stars in cycling at present. I think I’ve done a good attempt. Unfortunately, it is just not enough the record, but if I’m honest I could not be better.”
— B Xavier Disley, PhD (@xavierdisley) February 25, 2015
Pedalling a massive 58×14 gear, Dekker initially looked to be on course during his bid at the Aguascalientes velodrome. He was moving well after ten minutes, moving that gearing well but drifting on the corners and floating up towards the red line.
A lack of information being relayed meant that the viewers were not being kept up to date with how far he had gone, but unofficial reports from trackside suggested the Dutchman was keeping pace with his planned schedule.
At the 30 kilometre mark onscreen graphics suggested he was riding at 52.638 kilometre pace, which would have seen him set a new mark.
However his lap times began to drop, with consistent readings of 17.3 and then 17.5 seconds.
Dekker was clearly slowing and also going higher on the banking on some corners, drifting above the red line and losing distance. His timekeeper’s body language reflected concern, underlining that he was slower than he had hoped to be at that point.
At the 40 kilometre point he was said to be on a pace of 51.763 kilometres per hour, well behind Dennis’s 52.808 and also adrift of Matthias Brandle’s 52.024. He was one kilometre ahead of Voigt.
However there were questions about the accuracy of those onscreen graphics, and also the 51.461 kilometre pace he was credited with five kilometres later.
In addition to that, the onscreen timer was scrapped after it became clear it wasn’t registering an accurate time.
Dekker tried to raise his game in the final laps but his 52.221 kilometres still fell fractionally over 250 metres, or one lap, short of what was needed.
He wheeled to a halt and while he didn’t appear as visibly fatigued as Jack Bobridge was at the end of his own unsuccessful attempt at the end of January, his body language was that of someone who was disappointed with how things had turned out.
The 30 year old raced with the Garmin-Sharp team for the past three seasons but his contract wasn’t renewed at the end of 2014. He currently doesn’t have a contract for this season and had hoped that his effort would be successful and lead to a new deal.
It remains to be seen if he can yet secure a contract or if his ride in Mexico represents the last competitive effort of his career.
Speaking to CyclingTips last month, Dekker said that he believed riding well above sea level was necessary to give him the edge over Dennis, who he conceded was a better time trial rider.
“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.”
He said that he hoped two weeks’ preparation would be enough to acclimatise to the decreased oxygen saturation.
“To get 99 percent used to it, it will take around two weeks,” he said. “In the third week and the fourth week, you are improving still at one percent, and after five weeks you are totally adapted. But I hope 99 percent is enough…I’ll go two weeks before.”
Given that his distance was approximately 0.5% shorter than that of Dennis, he will likely wonder if spending a little longer at altitude might have given him the edge he needed.