Rohan Dennis will target the UCI hour record
Dennis, 29, has not set an exact date for the attempt, however he believes he will target the challenge after the 2020 summer Olympics in Tokyo.
“It’ll be within a year of Tokyo—I always thought I’d wait until Tokyo was done,” Dennis told VeloNews on Wednesday morning. “The [Olympic title] is a bigger goal for me. More or less, that’s what pays the bills, to be completely blunt.”
Dennis said he is still in the “planning stages” for a run at the hour title; he has yet to lock in the support of his team, Bahrain-Merida.
“At this stage it’s about planning what equipment I will be using,” Dennis said. “If I’ll have support from team equipment, or if I have to fund it a completely myself.”
Dennis made his first and only world hour ride on February 8, 2015, amid an increased interest in the decades-old challenge. He completed 52.491 kilometers at the Velodrome Suisse in Grenchen, just two weeks after winning the Tour Down Under in Adelaide, South Australia. The distance broke Matthias Brändle’s record of 51.852km set at the World Cycling Center in Aigle, Switzerland the previous October.
Dennis’ record stood for three months until Briton Alex Dowsett broke it at Manchester in England with 52.947km in early May of that year. Dowsett then surrendered his record on June 7, 2015 to Bradley Wiggins who rode to 54.526km at Lee Valley VeloPark in London. The record is now held by the Belgian, Victor Campenaerts who clocked 55.809km on April 16 this year at the Velodromo Bicentenario in Aguascalientes.
At the Tour de France, Dennis had been racing to help his team leader Vincenzo Nibali in the overall classification, until the Italian’s overall hopes floundered. He will now ride to help Nibali try to win a stage, if not himself. The South Australian’s prime opportunity will be Friday’s 27km time trial stage in Pau, at the foot of the Pyrénees.
And Dennis has his own ambitions as a GC rider to consider in the chase to set the hour record. Dennis is currently midway through a four-year development project to become a grand tour contender. Switching focus to take on the hour record might disrupt his evolution.
“Also, with the ‘GC’ thing, I want to see where I could get with that first, before I just go full gas for the time trialling again, if I were to,” Dennis said.
As for what location Dennis has in mind, the likelihood right now is Europe. He had contemplated the track in Manchester, and the Dunc Grey velodrome in Sydney Australia where the 2000 Olympic Games track cycling events were held. While his initial goal was to beat Wiggins’ record at sea level, he feels that Campernaerts has opened the contest up with his high altitude ride and that, in turn, had broadened his options for a venue.
“Before Campernaerts did it at attitude, I always said I wanted to beat Wiggins at a sea level,” Dennis said.
“But I wasn’t 100 percent sure where the quickest track was. And I was still thinking that maybe it will be Manchester, or it would be in Europe because I would do it mid-season [on the road] more or less. I wouldn’t want to fly back to Australia and do it mid-season. Sydney is a really fast track, but maybe not in July or August.
“But now Campernaerts has done his at Aguascalientes, I think it is fair game [to have an attempt] at altitude.”
Dennis has a genuine passion for the world hour record and its relevance in cycling history. He is committed to playing a part in helping to keep one of the sport’s hardest and most prestigious records in the spotlight.
Dennis credits the now retired German Jens Voigt for resuscitating interest in the record. In 2014, the UCI introduced unified rules for the world hour record which are aligned with those of individual track events.
Voigt was the first rider to attempt the record under those rules, clocking 51.110km on September 18 that year, and on the Velodrome Suisse, Grenchen, Switzerland where Dennis later returned to set his own world record.
“It was Jens Voigt who who brought it to our attention again,” Dennis said. I don’t know why … well, I sort of do know why he did it. He was a bit crazy … still is. He’s a hundred per cent crazy, but that’s what we all are.
“He actually, he started the whole movement to get people interested in it. So yeah, it’s really good.”