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Showing excellent form and fine track technique, BMC Racing Team’s Rohan Dennis was successful in his attempt to tackle the UCI hour record on Sunday, smashing the previous record of Matthias Brandle.
Dennis covered 52.491 kilometres to go almost 600 metres further than Brandle’s 51.852 kilometres, as had been set on October 30 in the World Cycling Centre in Aigle, Switzerland.
Riding on the Swiss track in Grenchen, the Australian rider was clearly faster than the Austrian. He covered 40 kilometres in 45 minutes 26 seconds and continued to push his limits all the way until the hour mark. Although his average speed dropped slightly inside the last ten minutes, he had enough in hand to succeed.
Dennis’ effort was well clear of the first of the current spate of hour record attempts, as tackled by Jens Voigt on September 18 in the same Velodrome Suisse in Grenchen. On that occasion he covered 51.110 kilometres.
The mark was subsequently beaten by Brandle. A third rider, Australian Jack Bobridge, tried to go further last Saturday in Melbourne’s DISC velodrome, but appeared to start too quickly and had to settle for 51.3 kilometres.
“I am pretty tired but really, really proud, he said less than ten minutes after the end of his effort, looking remarkably composed. “BMC made it easy. The whole week leading into this was very stressless. There was no pressure. It was perfect for me. It almost felt easy, although it wasn’t. It is great.”
He said he knew he had the record before the end but still had to suffer on to try to go as far as possible.
“There was a lot of pain,” he said. “I couldn’t really enjoy it too much, to be honest. I knew it was 208 laps [to equal Brandle]. Once I went past that, I knew I just had to go as hard as I can. I knew I still had to finish off the hour.”
Dennis showed excellent form last month when he took the biggest road race success of his career, winning the Santos Tour Down Under.
He then travelled back to Europe earlier this week and knuckled down to his final tune-up for the hour. BMC Racing Team coach Marco Pinotti described the various factors that had to be dealt with, including the jet lag and tiredness from his journey.
The work by Dennis and the team got him into the correct shape to take on the hour record. After ten minutes he was on target for 52.387 kilometres, and he increased that to 52.606 kilometre pace by the twenty minute mark. That put him nearly 11 seconds up on Brandle’s speed at that point.
He continued to accelerate, increasing his schedule to 52.726 kilometre pace after 30 minutes and 52.805 by 40 minutes.
However he slowed slightly after that, with his average speed dipping under 52.5 kilometres per hour. Still, it was more than enough to smash the former record, earning the current UCI WorldTour leader a place in history and giving him further motivation for the season ahead.
He thanked the crowd for their encouragement. “They really got behind me, especially when they knew it was going to be a new record. I am really appreciative that the came out and supported me. That’s a new record and I hope it stays a while.”
UCI President Brian Cookson complemented him on his showing. “Rohan’s performance is absolutely stellar,” he said. “He is the first rider to top the 52 kilometre mark. This performance is an indication of how good he is at the start of the season, confirming his demonstration at the Tour Down Under.
“Rohan is literally hitting the gas. I am delighted to see riders from outside Europe having a crack at this legendary record. I just can’t wait to see more attempts coming soon both on the men’s and women’s UCI Hour Record. It is great news for fans of our iconic event.”
Dutch rider Thomas Dekker will make his own attempt on the record on February 25 and now knows that he has a fight on his hands.