|Get used to it|
You can read the news this morning that Jack Bobridge has broken the world 4,000 metre pursuit record with a time of 4.10.534. Pick your own superlatives.
The fastest two times of 4.11.114 and 4.13.353 were set by Chris Boardman using the now banned “superman” position. As a result some said the record was unbreakable but that ignores history. Bobridge the third fastest time ever of 4.14.427 last year and he wasn’t alone: Bradley Wiggins, Jesse Sergent, Geraint Thomas and Taylor Phinney have also gone close.
Now you don’t find four seconds that easily but that’s a 1.5% improvement, equivalent to taking 0.15 seconds off the 100m sprint in athletics. A jump… but possible? Yes, Bobridge clearly has big talents and he’s still 21 years old so improvement on his past PB looked likely. I suspect he can go even faster.
In addition, ever-improving bike and clothing technology is allowing for improvements. Plus Sydney is baking hot right now, meaning the air inside the Dunc Gray velodrome is marginally less dense, as the diagram above illustrates. As Jonathan Vaughters noted this morning, strip out the starting lap and Bobridge was cruising at over 60km/h and at this speed, air density does matter. But the weather is just a factor, not the cause.
Air temperature won’t be as high in London for the 2012 Olympics but if the sunshine might be missing, so will the individual pursuit. The mouthwatering prospect of Bobridge vs. Phinney, not to mention the likes of Pippo Pozzato or Wiggins, and younger prospects like Rohan Dennis or Sergent won’t happen because the event has been scrapped by the UCI. Personally I don’t understand this and think the omnium is a confusing competition where medals are awarded for a points tally rather than a fastest rider. Someone who can perform consistently rather than smash a world record can win and this doesn’t feel right. Still, Bobridge has said he is going for gold and his all round abilities suggest he’s already a favourite for 2012.
In the meantime he’s certainly a rider to watch, whether in prologue events or normal road stages plus his talents, if backed by a kamikaze tendency, will make him a sure-fire leadout for Farrar. And don’t be surprised if the record falls to another of the new generation of riders from the track.