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Brandle targets Voigt’s hour record

MILAN (VN) — Austrian Matthias Brändle (IAM Cycling) will attempt to beat Jens Voigt’s hour record on October 30.

“I am delighted that a young rider is interested,” UCI President Brian Cookson said in a press release. “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.”

The 24-year-old will try to break Voigt’s 51.11-kilometer mark next Thursday on the velodrome of the UCI World Cycling Centre in Aigle, Switzerland at 7 p.m. local time, marking almost one year since the hour record came back in the spotlight.

Last fall, classics and time trial specialist Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing) began planning for an attempt in the 2014 season. He was going to try after racing Paris-Roubaix or after one of the grand tours, but the Swiss cyclist’s dream was put on hold when the UCI began considering a rule change.

The governing body issued a rule change on May 15 to allow track-style pursuit bikes and to annul its 2000 rule that insisted cyclists use traditional bikes in the Eddy Merckx position. The 2000 rule change did not help one of cycling’s historic events because only two riders — Chris Boardman (2000) and Ondrej Sosenka (2005) — upped the mark after that.

Prior to that, cycling stars like Fausto Coppi, Jacques Anquetil, and Eddy Merckx were going after and setting new marks. Equipment and positions evolved that saw Francesco Moser, Graeme Obree, Miguel Indurain, Tony Rominger, and Chris Boardman break the record in “extreme” positions that were reclassified with the 2000 ruling.

The May 15 change may have forced Cancellara to backpedal, but it cleared the way for others. Germany’s Voigt, one of cycling’s most popular figures, signed off on his career with the record September 18. He acknowledged it was the first and early mark for the big men like Cancellara, Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), and Bradley Wiggins (Sky) to beat.

“OK, boys, it’s up to you,” Voigt said. “Give it to me.”

Wiggins already said he wants to attempt to break the mark in June 2015 after racing on the road and before fully transferring to the track as he eyes the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

“I want to prepare for it properly. It will give me something to get out of bed for in the winter,” Wiggins told the BBC in September. “I want to have a go at the one hour record next year after what Jens did last week.”

Martin said he is open to trying to break the record, but has not said when he could do it. Cancellara still has the record on his list, possibly in 2015.

“Cancellara and the team are still talking about it,” Trek’s general manger Luca Guercilena told VeloNews in July. “We never abandoned the idea.”

In the meantime, young riders have their space and time to try. Twenty-four-year-old American Taylor Phinney (BMC Racing) indicated he might be interested, while 26-year-old Brit Alex Dowsett (Movistar) said he wants to try this winter.

Now, however, it is Brändle’s turn.

“I have decided to try my luck with the record-breaking effort partially because Jens Voigt has been a role model for me since my childhood,” Brändle said. “His personality and style mark him out as an exceptional man in my mind.

“After he made his own successful assault on the Hour, I knew I also had to try and match his effort. Within just a few weeks, I surprised myself since I was dreaming his dream for myself. Just imagine if I have what it takes to match and improve upon his performance.”