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Armstrong's 'hour' plan

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F-One support for Armstrong
(©Trek bikes)

Eddy Merckx, Tony Rominger, Miguel Indurain, Chris Boardman, Graham Obree, Francesco Moser and Fausto Coppi have all done it. They have all put their reputation on the line and ridden as far as they can in one hour. It’s the simplest event in cycling, but perhaps the most daunting and difficult, which is why many (great) riders shy away from it. It’s always attracted a certain kind of rider. An hour athelet needs to be a good time trialist with an ability to suffer, which goes without saying really, but there has to be a combination of physical and mental factors. Careful planning, the right equipment and an ability to take a risk are all essential prerequisites.

In 2001, during the Tour de France, Lance Armstrong first mentioned his interest in the record. This was when he was working with Dr. Michele Ferrrari, the now disgraced Italian doctor, who probably realised the potential for a successful bid.

A few people stand out from the lists below; Henri Desgrange the founder of the Tour de France set the first record and Eddy Merckx set the best ‘Athelete’s’ figures. But two British riders set the hour on fire in the nineties. Graeme Obree changed equipment technology drastically and in the process the way hour records were set. Chris Boardman used his Superman position to go beyond 56kms.

But Obree has to be the greatest ‘hour man’. His exploits and attitude were regarded by many as amateur and it’s true they were hardly well planned. But he still did it and he started a re-birth of interest in the magic of the hour. His book ‘Flying Scotman’ is a must read if you are taken by legend of the hour record.

UCI set the bar
In September 2000, the UCI decided to create a new ‘UCI Hour Record’ as well as drawing a line under previous technically enhanced records which is now known as the ‘Best Hour Performance’. The current UCI Hour Record ‘benchmark bike’ is the one that Eddy Merckx used in Mexico on 25th October 1972, covering a distance of 49.43195 km. So now the UCI Hour Record can only be attempted if the equipment is fully checked by the UCI and it must be similar to that used by Merckx.

Since then a few riders have played with the hour but no one has beaten Boardman’s athelete’s mark. Or for that matter his incredible 56 km ‘best’.

So can Armstrong do it?
Yes. He has the engine. He also has previous hour record rider Viatcheslav Ekimov on his team who will be able to provide useful advice. Boardman was a very good track rider and Armstrong has no ‘real’ previous track experience. What he does have is the ability to plan and fantastic attention to detail, which is something that he will definitely need.

The Machine
A track Trek Madone was recently spotted at the Discovery training camp. The UCI stamped out any advances on the basic bike do no triathlon bars, aero hats or aero wheels are allowed. It’s as basic as it gets.

Boardman’s bike had Royce-built wheels with Dugast tubs and concealled spoke nipples and he had a special track frame made to place him at the edge of the legal position limits. Made from steel to keep it to the right weight limit. The bars were placed so he could rest his wrists on them. But this is all that is allowed. It’s not comfortable and pain sets in after a matter of minutes. Sound like fun?
Here’s a few who have tried, and failed, recently:

June 2001: Ten days after the end of the Giro d’Italia, Abram Olano cancelled his attempt.

21 Oct 2001: Thomas Liese failed. The German stopped his attempt after 37 minutes because he had fallen 2 laps or so behind Boardman’s pace (about 600 m).

15th Nov 2002: Swiss champion Jean Nuttli abandons after 60 laps (15 km/48.449 km/h). It seems that he has problems to keep his nerves under control. A 20 minutes training ride in normal cycling clothes was faster than the actual attempt. On the next day he completes one hour, but reaches only 47.093 km.

2nd Jul 2003: Multi-national champion Michael Hutchinson is well off Boardman’s pace after 30 kilometres before pulling off the track after 40 minutes having covered 32.5km.
Hutchinson is expected to make another attempt on Boardman’s record later in the year.

8th April 2004: Hour legend Obree pulls out of bid after testing. Saying that he is way off the pace required.

2005: Armstrong makes plans to tackle it…

The Records

Pre-1940
35km 325m – HENRI DESGRANGE (FRA) – 11.05.1893 – PARIS (FRA)
38km 220m – JULES DUBOIS (FRA) – 31.10.1894 – PARIS (FRA)
39km 240m – OSCAR VAN DEN EYNDE (BEL) – 30.07.1897 – PARIS (FRA)
40km 781m – WILLIE HAMILTON (USA) – 03.07.1898 – DENVER (USA)
41km 110m – LUCIEN PETIT BRETON (FRA) – 24.08.1905 – PARIS (FRA)
41km 520m – MARCEL BERTHET (FRA) – 20.06.1907 – PARIS (FRA)
42km 122m – OSCAR EGG (SUI) – 22.08.1912 – PARIS (FRA)
42km 741m – MARCEL BERTHET (FRA) – 07.08.1913 – PARIS (FRA)
43km 525m – OSCAR EGG (SUI) – 21.08.1913 – PARIS (FRA)
43km 775m – MARCEL BERTHET (FRA) – 20.09.1913 – PARIS (FRA)
44km 247m – OSCAR EGG (SUI) – 18.08.1914 – PARIS (FRA)
44km 588m – IAN VAN HOUT (NED) – 25.08.1933 – RORMOND (NED)
44km 777m – MAURICE RICHARD (FRA) – 28.09.1933 – SAINT TRUIDEN (BEL)
45km 090m – GIUSEPPE OLMO (ITA) – 31.10.1935 – MILAN (ITA)
45km 325m – MAURICE RICHARD (FRA) – 14.10.1936 – MILAN (ITA)
45km 485m – FRANS SLAATS (NED) – 29.09.1937 – MILAN (ITA)
45km 767m – MAURICE ARCHAMBAUD (FRA) – 03.11.1937 – MILAN (ITA)

Professionals Open air ‘Sea level’ track – 600 m
45km 848m – FAUSTO COPPI (ITA) – 07.11.1942 – MILAN (ITA), Vigorelli
46km 159m – JACQUES ANQUETIL (FRA) – 29.06.1956 – MILAN (ITA), Vigorelli
46km 923m – ROGER RIVIERE (FRA) – 18.09.1957 – MILAN (ITA), Vigorelli
47km 346m – ROGER RIVIERE (FRA) – 23.09.1958 – MILAN (ITA), Vigorelli
48km 093m – FERDINAND BRACKE (BEL) – 30.10.1967 – ROME (ITA), Vélodrome Olympique
48km 144m – HANS HENRIK OERSTED (DEN) – 09.09.1985 – BASSANO DEL GRAPPA (ITA)
48km 543m – FRANCESCO MOSER (ITA) – 26.09.1986 – MILAN (ITA), Vigorelli
49km 801m – FRANCESCO MOSER (ITA) – 03.10.1986 – MILAN (ITA), Vigorelli

Altitude – Open air track (+600 m)
48km 653m – OLE RITTER (DEN) – 10.10.1968 – MEXICO (MEX), Vélodrome Olympique
49km 431m – EDDY MERCKX (BEL) – 25.10.1972 – MEXICO (MEX), Vélodrome Olympique
50km 808m – FRANCESCO MOSER (ITA) – 19.01.1984 – MEXICO (MEX), Centre Sp.

Professionals – Indoor track
45km 843m – ALFRED RUEGG (SUI) – 27.12.1959 – ZURICH (SUI), Hallenstadion
46km 819m – ALFRED RUEGG (SUI) – 21.01.1962 – ZURICH (SUI), Hallenstadion
46km 847m – S. ADLER (RFA) – 02.08.1968 – ZURICH (SUI), Hallenstadion
47km 227m – N. STEPHENS (AUS) – 03.04.1987 – LAUNCENSTON (AUS)
48km 637m – FRANCESCO MOSER (ITA) – 10.10.1987 – MOSCOU (URS)
50km 644m – FRANCESCO MOSER (ITA) – 21.05.1988 – STUTTGART (RFA)

Amateur – Open air altitude track (+ 600 m)
46km 956m – RADAMES TREVIÑO (MEX) – 16.03.1969 – MEXICO (MEX), Vélodrome Olympique
47km 513m – MOGENS FREY (DEN) – 05.10.1969 – MEXICO (MEX), Vélodrome Olympique
47km 553m – E. M. RODRIGUEZ (COL) – 07.10.1970 – MEXICO (MEX), Vélodrome Olympique
48km 200m – HANS HENRIK OERSTED (DEN) – 01.11.1979 – MEXICO (MEX), Centre Sp.
49km 946m – JOHN FREY (USA) – 10.10.1991 – COLORADO SPRINGS (USA), Vél. 7-Eleven

Amateurs – Indoor track
46km 745m – DANIEL GISIGER (SUI) – 14.06.1977 – ZURICH (SUI), Hallenstadion
48km 448m – VIATCHESLAV EKIMOV (URS) – 28.10.1985 – MOSCOW (URS)
49km 672m – VIATCHESLAV EKIMOV (URS) – 27.10.1986 – MOSCOU (URS)

Professionals – Indoor track – All levels
51km 152m – FRANCESCO MOSER (ITA) – 23.01.1984 – MEXICO (MEX), Centre Sp.
51km 596m – GRAEME OBREE (GBR) – 17.07.1993 – HAMAR (NOR)
51km 840m – FRANCESCO MOSER (ITA) – 15.01.1994 – MEXICO (MEX)
52km 270m – CHRISTOPHER BOARDMAN (GBR) – 23.07.1993 – BORDEAUX (FRA)
52km 719m – GRAEME OBREE (GBR) – 27.04.1994 – BORDEAUX (FRA)
53km 040m – MIGUEL INDURAIN (ESP) – 02.09.1994 – BORDEAUX (FRA)
53km 832m – TONY ROMINGER (SUI) – 22.10.1994 – BORDEAUX (FRA)
55km 291m – TONY ROMINGER (SUI) – 05.11.1994 – BORDEAUX (FRA)

Best hour performance
56km 375m – CHRISTOPHER BOARDMAN (GBR) – 06.09.1996 – MANCHESTER (GBR)

Atheletes hour record – Absolute
49km 441m – CHRISTOPHER BOARDMAN (GBR) – 27.10.2000 – MANCHESTER (GBR)

Women – Open air sea level track – 600 m
38km 473m – TAMARA NOVIKOVA (URS) – 07.07.1955 – IRKOUTSK (URS)
38km 569m – RENEE VISSAC (FRA) – 18.09.1957 – MILAN (ITA), Vigorelli
39km 718m – MILLIE ROBINSON (GBR) – 25.09.1958 – MILAN (ITA), Vigorelli
41km 347m – ELSY JACOBS (LUX) – 09.11.1958 – MILAN (ITA), Vigorelli
43km 082m – CORNELIA VAN OOSTEN-HAGE (NED) – 16.09.1978 – MUNICH (RFA)
43km 587m – JEANNIE LONGO (FRA) – 30.09.1986 – MILAN (ITA), Vigorelli

Women – Open air Altitude track (+600 m)
41km 471m – MARIA CRESSARI (ITA) – 25.11.1972 – MEXICO (MEX), Vélodrome Olympique
44km 770m – JEANNIE LONGO (FRA) – 20.09.1986 – COLORADO SPRINGS (USA)
44km 933m – JEANNIE LONGO (FRA) – 22.09.1987 – COLORADO SPRINGS (USA)

Women – Indoor track
41km 087m OLGA SIDORENKO (URS) – 20.10.1982 – MOSCOU (URS)
42km 319m – BARBARA GANZ (SUI) – 25.11.1985 – ZURICH (SUI), Hallenstadion
44km 718m – JEANNIE LONGO (FRA) – 07.11.1986 – GRENOBLE (FRA), Palais des Sports
45km 016m – JEANNIE LONGO (FRA) – 29.10.1989 – MOSCOU (URS)
46km 352m – JEANNIE LONGO (FRA) – 01.10.1989 – MEXICO (MEX)
47km 112m – CATHERINE MARSAL (FRA) – 29.04.1995 – BORDEAUX (FRA)
47km 411m – YVONNE McGREGOR (GBR) – 17.06.1995 – MANCHESTER (GBR)

Women – Best hour performance
48km 159m – JEANNIE LONGO-CIPRELLI (FRA) – 26.10.1996 – MEXICO (MEX)

Women Athelete’s hour record
43km 501m – ANNA WILSON (AUS) – 18.10.2000 – SYDNEY (AUS)
44km 767m – JEANNIE LONGO-CIPRELLI (FRA) – 05.11.2000 – MEXICO (MEX)
Absolute record
45km 094m – JEANNIE LONGO-CIPRELLI (FRA) – 07.12.2000 – MEXICO (MEX)

Hour Links

  • Boardman’s ‘athelete’ record here
  • Boardman’s best hour performance (superman position) here
  • Wolfgang Menn’s excellent hour record site with reports and scientific information from many record attempts. I’m sure Lance has this one bookmarked!
  • More about F-One, Armstrong’s training and technical support team go here

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