Filippo Ganna is a serial world record collector. The Italian currently holds three; the team pursuit, the Hour Record and his latest exploit, the individual pursuit, which he claimed in show-stopping style at last week’s Track World Championships.
Ganna’s IP time of 3-59.636 made him just the second person in history to go under four minutes, bettering the benchmark set by American Ashton Lambie last year by three tenths of a second.
Though some suspect Ganna has now shelved his records for many years, a new UCI rule, due to be introduced next year, could see them topple a lot sooner.
As of 1 January 2023, a technical specification will allow taller riders extra reach on their handlebar extensions.
The new rule, filed under subsection 1.3.023 of the UCI Regulations, separates riders into three height categories, with each one allowed a different distance between the middle of their forearm support and the end of their handlebar extensions.
For riders under 180cm, the maximum distance will be 100mm. Those between 180cm and 190cm will be allowed 120mm, while riders over 190cm will be permitted a reach of up to 140mm.
Until now, the distance has been regulated at 100mm across all height categories, with riders over 190cm able to request special dispensation to move forward either the peak of their saddle or handlebar extensions.
Speaking to Cycling Weekly, GB track endurance coach Ben Greenwood said the taller riders will "gain most" from the rule change.
“You can potentially get your head a bit more behind your hands, which is more aerodynamic,” Greenwood explained. “That will change a few riders’ positions.”
One rider who is likely to benefit from the new regulations will be Ganna himself, who measures 192cm and already favours an aggressive, praying mantis-like position.
According to aerodynamics consultant Xavier Disley, Ganna will be able to achieve “a much steeper angle” with his arms under the new rule.
Referring specifically to the Hour Record, Disley said: “Even if he saves nothing off his CdA, the difference between [his distance of 56.792km] and 57km is about four and a half watts. And four and a half watts at that speed is just the tiniest of changes.
“I would suspect if he goes again [after the rule change], he’ll go faster,” Disley added.
The same applies to both the team and individual pursuits, two events where substantial gains can be found in minor positional changes.
Potential Hour Record contenders on the UCI's 190cm or taller list include Stefan Küng, Jonathan Milan and Wout van Aert, while Remco Evenepoel is classed below 180cm.
Still, if the changes end up benefiting Ganna, don't be surprised to see the Italian send his records even further into untouchable territory.
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