Belgian Victor Campenaerts (Lotto-Soudal) has set his sights on beating Bradley Wiggins's Hour record, and early tests suggest he's on track for the ride planned later in 2019.
The European time trial champion wants to try to exceed the distance of 54.526km, set by Wiggins on June 7, 2015. On Saturday, he tested himself for 30 minutes in Grenchen, Switzerland.
"It was very positive," Campenaerts told Het Nieuwsblad. "I rode an average of 54.8 kilometres per hour and in the last four laps, I went at 60kph to see what was left in the tank."
When Wiggins wrote his name in history books by taking the Hour record at the Lee Valley VeloPark in London, he was aiming for above 55 kilometres.
Campenaerts lacks the track background possessed by Wiggins, who has individual pursuit and team pursuit gold medals to his name. The 26-year-old plans on scheduling the full Hour attempt later in the 2019 season season when there is time free from his obligations with Belgian WorldTour team Lotto-Soudal.
"I realise, of course, that 30 minutes at such a pace is a big difference compared to the full 60 minutes, and a lot will have to be done to effectively break the world Hour record," Campenaerts said.
"Before this test, there were two possible scenarios. If the result had disappointing then the project would have been postponed most likely after the Tokyo 2020 Games. Instead, I had positive answers and we can plan times together with the team for an attack on the Hour record.
"This does not mean in the coming weeks or months, most likely it may be in 2019. The fact that the test went well does not mean that the attempt will be right away, but it is a promising sign."
The last rider to attempt to break the record for the furthest distance ridden over an hour was Dutchman Dion Beukeboom, using the Velodromo Bicentenario in Aguascalientes in August. He said, "If you look closely at Wiggins's record, [we] know that this record can be even better." However, he only managed a still respectable 52.757 kilometres.
Campenaerts, however, wants to avoid making any "premature conclusion" and being "overconfident."
"My condition is excellent now of course, partly due to my participation in the Vuelta a España and the build-up towards the world championships time trial," said Campenaerts, who placed third behind winner Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing).
Dennis briefly held the hour record before Wiggins.
"It is not that I've had specific preparation for the test, so there is certainly margin for improvement," continued Campenaerts.
"But let's not be overconfident and make any premature conclusions. It was just a good sign that the test was positive."
Attempts on the Hour record have become more regular since the UCI relaxed the rules on equipment, allowing riders to use modern bikes and technology. The first rider to break the record in its current state was Jens Voigt, who managed 51.115km in Switzerland on September 18 2014.
Since then, there have been four more men's record holders - Matthias Brändle, who rode 51.852km in Switzerland in October 30, 2014, Dennis who completed 52.491km in Switzerland on February 8, 2015 Alex Dowsett who managed 52.937km in Manchester on May 2, 2015 followed by Wiggins in June that year.
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Gregor Brown is an experienced cycling journalist, based in Florence, Italy. He has covered races all over the world for over a decade - following the Giro, Tour de France, and every major race since 2006. His love of cycling began with freestyle and BMX, before the 1998 Tour de France led him to a deep appreciation of the road racing season.
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