Thursday, June 13, 2024
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The VV View – @TheJensie Sets a New Standard


First of all we have to congratulate Jens Voigt (presumably this is the same person as ‘@TheJensie’ whom ‘that commentator’ continually referred to?) – anyone who can cover 51.115 K on a bicycle in one hour unaided by gravity or pace making deserves plaudits.

However, I have to argue the point about his, ‘having broken the world record hour record’ – surely he has ‘established a new standard’?

Jens Voigt
Jens Voigt in full flow. Photo©Trek Factory Racing

To compare his distance to that of the incumbent of the ‘Athlete’s Hour,’ Ondrej Sosenka’s 49.700 is ridiculous.

Sosenka’s ride was on a very different bicycle to that of Voigt’s – you can see what I wrote about the Czech and his machine at the time, here:

Sosenka, Boardman and Merckx all rode steel frames, dropped bars and spoked wheels with minimal aero features or advantage.

And please don’t tell us that Sosenka was subsequently busted for doping; so were Anquetil and Merckx – and Moser was a blood doping pioneer.

Jens Voigt
Ondrej Sosenka starts his 60 minutes of effort.

The laws of defamation prevent us from saying anything about other record holders from the modern era…

And forgive me for being a nit picker but Voigt’s distance is less than the aforementioned Moser’s figure from 30 years ago – 51.151 kilometres.

Even his manager, Luca Guercilena said;

“At the end I was really hoping he could beat the time of Moser because that was the first reference for the hour record and that would have been good.”

The distance was also significantly less than Toni Rominger achieved on a steel frame with double discs and tri-bars 20 years ago – 55.291.

Jens Voigt
Tony Rominger takes his Hour Record, Bordeaux, November 1994.

Bicycle aerodynamics have come a long way in 20 years and the only one of the current regulations which Rominger’s Colnago doesn’t meet is that of having equal wheel sizes.

However, the difference was minimal and it’s contended by most speed gurus that the increased contact patch of the tyre on the track all but negates the lesser drag from the smaller wheel.

Jens Voigt
Voigt’s Bike was based on Trek’s road-going TT model. Photo©Trek Factory Racing

The standard set by Voigt is to encourage a revival of interest in the record, which is no bad thing, but let’s not get carried away or compare apples to oranges.

In the 40-odd years I’ve followed cycling the Hour Record has had it’s quiet and ‘daft’ spells – at one time there were six Hour Records, sea level, altitude and indoor for professionals and amateurs.

Jens Voigt
Daniel Gisiger (r) rides the Baracchi Trophy in 1981 with Serge Demiere.

And on the subject of the amateur hour, it was disappointing that our ‘experts’ didn’t pick up that the man holding the lap times display for ‘The Jensie’ was Daniel Gisiger a top Swiss ‘chrono pro’ who won the Trofeo Baracchi three times and the Grand Prix des Nations twice – not to mention holding the world amateur hour record himself with 46.75 kilometre in 1977, a distance subsequently bettered by Hans Henrik Ørsted of Denmark with 48.20 in 1979.

It was perhaps a good thing when the UCI rolled up all the records so that there was just one – until ‘our Graeme’ came along, first with the ‘downhill ski position’ and then ‘superman’ complicating it all again and sowing the seeds of having two records – one based on the Bracke/Ritter/Merckx traditional position and one for the ‘space age’ positions of Obree and Boardman.

Jens Voigt
Graeme Obree with his first unique position, ‘downhill ski tuck’.

The current revision is meant to tidy it all up, with any current UCI track legal machine now eligible – although many would contend that Moser’s record from 1984 should never have been allowed to stand, due to the use of double discs and that’s where it all began to get ‘grey.’

And there’s long been debate about Moser’s discs containing tubes filled with thick oil and having ball bearings at the hub which moved out towards the rim as he accelerated to aid his acceleration then give a ‘flywheel’ effect.

Jens Voigt
Francesco Moser and his team studied the rules and found a few workarounds.

Going back to Graeme for a moment, current UCI rules mean that there can never again be a marvellous maverick like Monsieur Obree coming from left field to grab The Hour.

If you don’t have a biological passport then no dice on a record attempt – Pro Continental and World Tour riders only, thank you.

On the one hand it lessens the chance of question marks over rides but at the same time means that the likes of Matt Bottrill can’t attack the record.

Jens Voigt
We’d love to see Matt Bottrill allowed to have a go at the record. Photo©John Pick

And a final point; if you attend the Worlds then you’ll be treated to the spectacle of UCI commissairs taping up tiny world championship bands on junior ladies’ bikes.

Meanwhile, ‘The Jensie’ declares that he is ‘Mother F**king Jens Voigt’ on his top tube.

Jens Voigt
Why, Jens? Photo©Trek Factory Racing

A bit of tape might have been employed there, methinks.

But all that said, congratulations to Voigt and Trek on a brilliant PR coup – it’s bound to sell bikes.

And least we forget, that’s what this sport is all about.