Nico Anelli to attempt to break Scottish Hour Record distance to raise awareness of chronic gut conditions: 'It shouldn't be the end of your sporting hopes'

The Scottish time triallist set up his own team, Real Guts Racing, to raise awareness

Nico Anelli
(Image credit: Nico Anelli)

Nico Anelli, a Scottish cyclist who set up his own racing team to promote awareness of a chronic illness that he suffers from, is to attempt to reset the Scottish Hour Record distance in Glasgow at the end of November.

The 23-year-old was diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) aged 17 that causes complications in the gut. He featured in a Cycling Weekly article on gut issues earlier this year, revealing that IBD has led him to suffer severe weight loss, anaemia and nutritional deficiencies. 2019 Tour of Flanders winner Alberto Bettiol suffers from the same condition.

Now, in his continued efforts to educate people around the condition, Anelli is aiming to break a 25-year-old record at the Sir Chris Hoy Velodrome in Glasgow on Sunday, November 28 (10.30am start).

In 1996, Jim Gladwell set a distance of 46.650km, and though Anelli, from Dundee, is wanting to keep his targeted distance close to his chest, he revealed that he isn’t “going out there to break the record by a couple of metres. I want a good, honest record.”

Anelli will be speaking with Alex Dowsett before his attempt, the fellow Briton having fallen just short of beating the world distance in Mexico a few weeks ago, while Anelli has been learning lessons from Dan Bigham’s ride on October 1 when he reset the British record with a distance of 54.723km. 

“I’ve taken a lot from Bigham,” Anelli said. “I’ve watched some of his stuff where he talks about how he approached it mentally. There was one quote where he said it’s about racing it on his terms.

“He did a very harsh negative split and them ramped it up in the last half and I like that as an approach rather than to flat-line the hour.

“I’m still playing about with my strategy, but I think I prefer that to a sustained pace for an hour.”

(Image credit: Nico Anelli)

Two years ago, Anelli - who is an accomplished time traillist, winning the Fife Time Trial Series this season - founded Real Guts Racing, and although he is the team’s only rider so far, he has plans to expand and enter stage races with riders competing under the team’s banner.

The principal objective of the team and his Hour attempt, though, is to promote awareness of IBD. “I want to put the message out there of what can be done, that it is possible to go out and do something like this,” he said.

“Just because you might have IBD or another gut issue, it doesn’t limit you. It shouldn’t be the end of your sporting hopes.”

Anelli will begin tapering for the attempt in around a week’s time, adding that IBD has restricted his diet somewhat.

“The principles are the same: I need carbs for fuel and protein to recover, but one of the main inflammatories for me is gluten,” he said.

>>> We need to talk about gut problems: A projected one-in-ten suffer from IBS, but how does it affect one's cycling?

“I’m not celiac, but I’ve cut gluten from my diet completely. I really have to watch what I eat, and with the Hour everything is counted and I have to know what’s in everything otherwise I risk a flare-up.

“I struggle with absorbing all of the calories I put into my body, so it’s a game of making sure the numbers are big enough so I don’t lose weight.”

People can watch the event in person, while the attempt will be live streamed via the Real Gut Racing’s social media platforms.

Anelli is raising money for Crohn's and Colitis UK, and you can donate here

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Chris Marshall-Bell

Chris first started writing for Cycling Weekly in 2013 on work experience and has since become a regular name in the magazine and on the website. Reporting from races, long interviews with riders from the peloton and riding features drive his love of writing about all things two wheels.

Probably a bit too obsessed with mountains, he was previously found playing and guiding in the Canadian Rockies, and now mostly lives in the Val d’Aran in the Spanish Pyrenees where he’s a ski instructor in the winter and cycling guide in the summer. He almost certainly holds the record for the most number of interviews conducted from snowy mountains.