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Filippo Ganna smashed the UCI Hour Record recently set by Dan Bigham, improving upon the Briton’s mark in the Tissot Velodrome in Grenchen, Switzerland, on Saturday.
Holding a tight, low aerodynamic position despite his height, he went considerably further than Bigham’s 55.548 km set in the same location on August 19th.
More significantly, he exceeded the 56.375 kilometers logged by Chris Boardman in the since-banned Superman position back in 1996, unifying the hour records.
Ganna’s 56.792km was 1.244km further than Bigham logged, a huge improvement on what was already a very high mark. It was also 417 metres past Boardman’s record.
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“Today to arrive at this amazing goal is fantastic for me, and for all the staff who have worked for a long time to arrive at this result,” Ganna said.
“This morning I thought to break the record by one meter. But in the end I said I wanted to do more. I think this result is amazing, [to beat Boardman’s] 56.375 is not bad.”
Ganna’s reaction was an understatement, given that the Superman mark has held for 26 years and was believed by some as perhaps unlikely to ever be beaten. Worryingly for anyone else aiming for the new record, Ganna suggested he will try again, and believes he could go faster.
“I think next time I will try in another part of the season with more fresh legs and we can go more high again,” he said. “But this result is amazing. Now we think to the recovery and maybe try to celebrate it together.”
Bigham will be one of those feting the achievement, even if it saw his own mark eclipsed. He is an aerodynamic specialist and Ineos Grenadiers’ race engineer, and worked with Ganna in the buildup to the event. Part of that work involved calculating the pacing strategy, with a conservative approach programmed in beforehand.
The Italian duly started slower than Bigham, going through the 5km mark almost a second and a half back and the 10km point 3.682 seconds behind.
Feeling good, Ganna then accelerated over the following five kilometres and started to turn things around. He was just 2.236 back at the 15km point and by the time he went through lap 75, he had moved ahead of Bigham by 0.241 seconds.
He continued to gain time and at the 20km point, he had stretched things out to be 1.604 seconds quicker. Ganna’s confidence appeared to build from there. By kilometer 30 he was 15.307 seconds faster than Bigham’s previous pace and continued reeling off sub 16 second laps. He was 24.710 seconds in front at kilometer 35, 38.824 seconds up at kilometer 40, and 54.611 seconds up 5000 meters later.
Ganna was hurtling towards the threshold of one minute up on Bigham and broke through that by lap 188. He was one minute 08.506 in front after 50 kilometers but had started to lose form. Head shaking and bike wavering on some bends, the effort became more and more clear.
Ganna dug in and was 1.17.266 ahead of the previous record at the 5km mark. He had less than two minutes to go at that point and floored it to the bell and beyond, rolling to a triumphant halt after the sounding of the pistol.
Filippo Ganna’s pacing versus that of Dan Bigham:
- 5km +1.372 seconds
- 10km +3.682
- 15km +2.236
- 20km -1.604
- 25km -6.826
- 30km -15.307
- 35km -24.710
- 40km -38.824
- 45km -54.611
- 50km -1.08.506
- 55km -1.17.266