Victor Campenaerts claims the UCI blocked him undertaking another Hour Record attempt that was set to take place at the London Olympic velodrome during lockdown.
The Belgian says that when he realised upcoming races were likely to be postponed during Paris-Nice he turned his attention to another Hour Record attempt.
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The attempt was discussed at a time when the coronavirus situation was still unfolding and different countries had varying limitations of lockdown in place. Campenaerts has said he understands and respects the decision of the UCI.
Campenaerts set a new longest distance of 55.089km in April 2019, beating Bradley Wiggins’ record of 54.526km by 563m.
Campenaerts set his record at the Velodromo Bicentenario in Aguascalientes, Mexico, which has an altitude of 1,888m, while Wiggins’ was set at sea-level at the London Olympic velodrome in 2015.
Campenaerts cites this reason, and the fact critics always bring it up, as the reason he wants another attempt to beat Wiggins’ time once more but this time at sea-level.
“When it became clear during Paris-Nice that many races would be postponed, the idea of quarantining the London cycling track for three weeks was ripe for a new attempt,” Campenaerts told Het Nieuwsblad.
“Since after my world Hour Record, some critics said I could only break Bradley Wiggins’ record because it was at a high altitude, I wanted to beat his distance again at sea-level and on the same track.”
Campenaerts left Lotto-Soudal for Team NTT at the end of the 2019 season and says his new boss Bjarne Riis was supportive of the plan. However, the two-time European time trial champion claims the UCI didn’t allow the attempt as it “would not be good for the image of cycling”.
“My team boss Bjarne Riis was completely behind it and we already had contact with the owners of the track. Everything would be done according to the rules of social distancing but ten days after our application the UCI did not give the green light. The reason? My attempt would not be good for the image of cycling,” Campenaerts said.
London, like most of Europe, is currently in lockdown as countries attempt to combat the coronavirus pandemic. People are currently only allowed to leave their homes for “very limited purposes”, public gatherings of two people have been banned and non-essential shops have been closed.
Two weeks ago Bradley Wiggins said he thought the coronavirus lockdown presented the perfect opportunity for riders, who usually had their schedules filled with road racing, to attempt the Hour Record.
“I thought for Geraint [Thomas] and guys like that, what a great time to do the Hour Record,” Wiggins said in conversation with Mark Cavendish during an Instagram live Q&A. “What a bloody great opportunity to train for something and do it in a velodrome with two people.”