Thursday Shorts

Lotto Soudal verkenning

All roads lead to Belgium. No other country embraces cycling in the same way, the fervour is extensive and comprehensive. There are billboard ads in the streets and at bus stops to promote races – including that one for the E3. The local press are full of reports for this weekend’s double of the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne and last night’s TV had reports on the route recon by teams. Gossip magazines put cyclists on the front page. There was even a live stream for the great Claude Criquelion’s funeral yesterday. The pedal revolution is televised.

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An Hour in the Limelight

Jack Bobridge is the next to have a go at cycling’s Hour Record. Once the record was very prestigous but today it seems to be a record cherished within cycling rather than beyond it. However it is the ultimate chance to define and redefine a career.

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Roads to Ride: The Ghent Velodrome

Gent Six Day Kuipke

Not a road but a track and not a place to ride but a venue to visit. Still this series is about exploring legendary locations so here is the chance to look at the most famous of six day races. Or alternatively one of the last few surviving winter track contests.

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Who Can Break The Hour Record?

Who can break the hour record? Tony Martin? Bradley Wiggins? Fabian Cancellara? Taylor Phinney? All four can do it but the record is now open to hundreds of riders around the world. Chile’s Carlos Oyarzún can probably do it.

How so? The UCI announced a change of the Hour Record rules last week. There are two conclusions. First a rider can use any approved UCI track bike complete with tri bars, disc wheels and clothing rather than the classic “Merckx” bike with drop bars and low profile rims. Second the hour record has been re-established at 49.700km. Roll up, roll up.

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Go High and Get Hot

A quick physics lesson. Feel free to skip this one but with the news today that Fabian Cancellara could attack the Hour Record in August at the Aguascalientes Bicentennial Velodrome in Mexico, here’s a quick look at the effect of altitude and temperature on performance.

Within hours of the story appearing in La Gazzetta Dello Sport Cancellara’s Trek team denied the plans saying the focus is on the classics. But if the record attempt is still uncertain the physics is fixed: riding at altitude in Mexico could be just what is needed to break the hour record. It’s not just for elite records either, air temperature can have a big effect on daily riding and Strava conquests alike.

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The Hour Record in the 21st Century

What you can do in an hour? If you can ride more than 49.7km then you can take cycling’s Hour Record. It has been the sport’s blue riband but has fallen from grace, although as you’ll see below, it’s often been forgotten only to get revived.

There’s now renewed interest but the rules demand a retro-style bike. Can it find a new life or does it belong to the past?

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Tuesday Shorts

Mars Curiosity

We’ve had news this week of the NASA mission to send a vehicle to the red planet. It turns out the frame is a Litespeed, something spotted by Bill Strickland on Twitter. The US company is obviously more famous for its bikes than its exploratory vehicles, Robbie McEwen won the green jersey in the Tour de France on a Litespeed back in 2002. But the company’s expertise in the design and manufacture of tubing seems to be transferable to other domains.

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British Cycling’s Secret Weapon Unveiled

Ed Clancy

The success of the British Cycling team on the track is making many jealous. Today L’Equipe reports the French are wondering just what the secret is, are the British using special ultra-low friction ball bearings in their wheels or perhaps exploiting new theories on energy and power?

If there is a secret technology it is staying hidden. However there’s a special machine which spins and helps give the British team an advantage that other squads don’t have. A lottery draw machine.

Here’s a look at this advantage plus a focus on some of the technological advantages used by the British track cycling team.

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The Fastest Sprinter Who Can’t Win

Scan the start list of the men’s road race for the Olympic Games and you’ll spot several sprinters and fast finishers. Mark Cavendish, André Greipel and Peter Sagan for example. Who is the fastest?

The answer is obvious, it’s rider number 42: Mickaël Bourgain of France. He’s four times world champion in the team sprint event. On the track.

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