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Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing) has suspended his planned hour record attempt indefinitely. The decision came after the UCI announced on Thursday that it would eliminate the athlete’s hour record, sometimes called the Merckx hour record, in favor of allowing modern UCI-legal track equipment and positions for the hour record.
Cancellara’s Trek Factory Racing team had already begun preparing for an hour record attempt, but its efforts were aimed squarely at the Merckx record, which requires riders to make an attempt on a bike and in a position similar to those used by Eddy Merckx for his 1972 record-breaking ride.
“At this point we need to assess the situation,” said Trek Factory Racing manager Luca Guercilena, via a team press release. “We’ve invested many resources, both human and financial, to prepare for an attempt and we need to evaluate in which way, if any, we proceed. We are satisfied that the UCI has now stipulated clear regulations about the hour record, as there was already some speculation about it, but we need to examine what it means for our project, which so far has been focused on breaking the Merckx record.”
Though the team has proclaimed its support for the updated regulations, stating that “technological innovation has a place in cycling — it was Trek Bicycle’s exact motivation to own a WorldTour team,” Cancellara was initially attracted to making a Merckx-style hour record attempt by the historical comparison it would provide.
“The whole appeal of the hour record for me is that you are competing against riders from the past,” Cancellara said. “I would have loved to race Eddy (Merckx) in the classics, or in a time trial, but it’s not possible. The hour record has this charming side to it that I like a lot. Now it’s going to be different. I’m not against technological innovation, everyone knows that. It’s why I spend so much time testing road bikes with Trek. And it’s also why we’ve invested time and money in developing the best Merckx style bike.”
With the updated rules, the first star rider to make a record attempt is almost guaranteed success. The UCI has set Ondrej Sosenka, whose record of of 49.7km was attained under the stringent Merckx record rules, as the man to beat under the new regulations.
The use of UCI-legal aerodynamic equipment and positions would allow any top time trialist to blow that record away. For a rider like Cancellara, the lack of historical gravity surrounding such an attempt may prove too much to overcome.