Without a 2015 contract, Dekker plans hour record attempt

Garmin-Sharp/Cannondale did not offer the Dutch rider a contract for 2015

MILAN (VN) — Without a new 2015 contract from the team that combines Garmin-Sharp and Cannondale, Dutchman Thomas Dekker will turn his attention to breaking the hour record in the spring.

“It will be one of the toughest trials of my life, but that does not matter to me,” Dekker told Dutch newspaper AD.

“I’m not afraid of it. I put everything aside in the next few months. I put everything I have into that one hour.”

After changing the rules to allow pursuit-style track bikes, the UCI has seen back-to-back attempts and records in the last two months.

Germany’s Jens Voigt (Trek Factory Racing) rode 51.110 kilometers September 18 to mark his retirement and break the mark, while Austrian Matthias Brändle (IAM Cycling) set the current 51.852km bar October 30.

Dekker wrote the appointment on his calendar for next spring, but he would not specify a date. His decision to go for the hour record came the day after general manager Jonathan Vaughters decided not to renew Dekker’s contract.

“I was disappointed, but it also opened new doors. I’m not done with cycling. I could race for a small Italian small team, but that would do nothing for me,” Dekker continued.

“The attack on the world record is something else. It’s ambitious, and it’s all or nothing.”

Dekker’s resume includes overall victories in the 2006 Tirreno-Adriatico and 2007 Tour de Romandie stage races, followed by a failed anti-doping test for EPO in 2009. Vaughters helped Dekker back after the doping ban by signing him, first on the team’s development squad and then with the first division Garmin team for 2012.

Dekker won a stage in the 2012 Circuit de la Sarthe, but he lacks notable time trial results over the last three years. Dekker placed 131st over 47.2km in the 2014 Giro d’Italia, 23rd over 37km in the 2013 Tour of Poland, and 136th over 54.8km in the 2013 Giro d’Italia. He told AD he struggled to find his place in the peloton during his comeback.

“The attack on the world record is a wake-up call for myself. Excuses are not possible; you cannot hide,” Dekker said.

“It’s very simple: you get it or you don’t get it. If you get it, you are the hero, if you don’t, you’re ridiculed. It’s do or die.”

The 30-year-old Dekker is unsure about his cycling career regardless of whether or not he breaks the hour record. The publicity leading up to the attempt and the ride itself may help bring the long-haired rider from North Holland a new contract for 2015.

“It could be my last trick. Maybe I’ll stop it with the world record in my pocket or maybe I’ll continue,” added Dekker. “In the coming months, I am only concerned with that one day alone.”

To prepare for the day, Dekker and his manager Martijn Berkhout are considering velodromes, frames, and wheels. Because he is out of his contract with Garmin-Sharp, he will not be required to ride on a bike from its new sponsor Cannondale.

“We want to invite companies to join in and participate in Thomas’ record,” Berkhout said. “The hour record is a technical battle. What is the fastest bike? What attitude is best? Which helmet? What paint? What wheels? What is the fastest velodrome in the world? We are open to all ideas.”

It is unclear if Dekker will have to beat Brändle’s record or another one. Briton Alex Dowsett (Movistar), Dane Alex Rasmussen (Riwal Platform), American Taylor Phinney (BMC Racing), and Australian Jack Bobridge (Belkin) — all with better track records — said that they would like to try.

Any attempt will need to come soon because Sky’s Bradley Wiggins, who won the 2012 Tour de France and the time trial at the London Olympics, is expected to go for the record next June or July. He could ride somewhere around 55km.