Matthias Brändle (IAM Cycling) set a new world hour record in Aigle, Switzerland at the UCI’s 200-meter track, riding 51.852 kilometers.
Jens Voigt set the previous record on September 18, riding 51.11 kilometers at the Velodrome Suisse in Grenchen, Switzerland. However, it only took 42 days for Brändle to ride his way into the record books ahead of the now-retired German veteran.
“Now I feel really great, but during the race it was so hard,” said Brändle. “I knew after 30 minutes that I was going to succeed. The first minutes were easy and then I wanted to go a lot faster. Halfway through, things became more complicated and I started to feel pain.”
“I’m 43 years old — there had to be one young rider who could take me on!” said Voigt.
Though he has minimal track experience, Brändle pushed through a difficult final 10 minutes to set a new best mark.
“It started in September with tests in the wind tunnel, and we made the first tests on the track before the Tour of Lombardy,” said Brändle. “Of course I’m optimistic. If you say you don’t have a good chance, you will not do it.”
Interest in the hour record was revived after the UCI revised hour record rules to allow pursuit-style bikes
“It’s been absolutely wonderful,” said UCI president Brian Cookson. “It sounds easy enough riding for one hour as hard as possible around a track, but once you get beyond 30 or 35 minutes, you’re riding through a sea of lactic acid. … [Today’s ride] is another notch a bit further, but it’s not out of reach. We’ve seen a really worthy record tonight, a world-class performance.
“It’s exactly what we hoped would happen when we modernized the rules and allowed a modern pursuit-type bike. It’s exactly what we wanted to happen. We have a great older rider at the end of his career [Voigt], and now we have a younger rider very much at the beginning of his career.”
Early in the ride, the Austrian was already ahead, reaching the 5km mark after 5:49.
After 10km, the 24-year-old’s time was 11:32.027, ahead of Jens’ 12:01.336 split.
Brändle continued to extend his advantage, clocking 17:16.636 at 15km.
He had a 28-second advantage over Voigt at the at 20km mark.
Halfway through the ride, he’d gone 26km just short of 30-minute mark, on target for his goal of 52 kilometers at the end of an hour.
Brändle’s 30km split was 34:31.782, which was 1:01 ahead of Voigt’s split.
The young Austrian’s performance was steady, and when he reached the 40km mark, his average was still over 52kph, and his split was 46:07.930, 1:08 faster than Voigt at that point.
About 50 minutes in, he started to waver, and his average went below 52kph. His cadence dropped, and he began to struggle to hold the black line at the base of the track.
“I had a difficult period in the middle of the race,” he said. “But, it’s like as close as the [end of the] hour comes, the easier it goes.”
He fought through the dark final minutes and beat Voigt’s mark, but just barely, with about 42 seconds remaining in the hour.
“I’m really happy about it,” said the new world champion. “It’s really hard, and I was really on my limit.”
“I know what it’s like to be out there for one hour and it’s an achievement in itself! Bravo!” Voigt said to VeloNews via email. “He beat my record by quite a lot, actually. … You need to go through a wall of pain, and lactate, and he did great.
“I’m absolutely happy that I had the record for a while. It felt great. I was the first to re-launch the event, so I’m proud of that too. What happened today, as painful as it is, is normal. It was clear that my record wouldn’t stand. Our event was a great success and we knew we would inspire other riders and technical sponsors to give it a try. I was hoping to keep my record until Christmas maybe, but this is fine. I’m happy for him! Onwards now.”