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Bicycle Racing News and Opinion
Thursday, September 18, 2014
Second Edition

Back to news and opinion index page for links to archived stories

Jens Voigt Sets New World Hour Record

Under new rules that allow a rider to use a bike with aerodynamic equipment that meets the requirements for a track pursuit bike, German rider Jens Voigt has set a new World Hour Record of 51.115 kilometers. That is a 1,415 meter increase over the 49.700 kilometer record set by Ondrej Sosenka in 2005 on a traditional track bike. It's 1,683 meters further than Eddy Merckx traveled in 1972.

Of course, being allowed to use aero bars and disc wheels makes it again impossible to compare efforts across generations. I hope someone does a watt calculation to see if Voigt's effort was really superior to Eddy Merckx's, or if it is just a matter of a strong rider on a more aerodynamic bike.

The UCI had this nicely sorted out, with a record using a traditional position on a traditional bike and and a second aero bike record. This prevented the travesty that occurred when Francesco Moser smashed Eddy Merckx's record. Moser needed only a sustained 446 watts to beat Merckx's record, though Merckx kicked out a sustained 485 watts.

Technological advances could be used, yet cross-generational comparisons in the traditonal category were valid.

Note posted September 19: Cycling Weekly had this post before Voigt's successful ride: Voigt will ride 55×14 gearing, with 177.5mm cranks. He felt that 53×14 and 54×14 would have him spinning his legs too fast. He also said that he’d be riding at “360 to 370” watts for the attempt.

Everyone is excited about a new record and certainly there is no rider better liked that Jens Voigt. But if both the wattage calculations for Merckx's ride and Voigt's watt projections are correct, then we have had nothing more than a change in the definition of what constitutes the World Hour Record. One has to ask the same question Johan Bruyneel asked, what's wrong with Tony Rominger's old 55.291 km record now that aero equiment can be used.

This skunk at the picnic believes that while the UCI has gained a huge amount of publicity for what had been a moribund record, it was at the great cost of its honest value. I think it's a big humbug.

BikeRaceInfo's World Hour Record page