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January 24, 2005

Armstrong to go for the hour record?

The New York Times | So Many Miles to Cover and So Little Time to Do It

Lance Armstrong has mentioned several times that he might go for the world hour record. John Markoff, the business/technical reporter for the New York Times, covers some of the early planning of Armstrong's corporate team and coaches.

One of the interesting problems is exactly which hour record to pursue. In the early '90s, there was renewed interest in the record, as Graeme Obree used his Superman position and Chris Boardman a more conventional full-aero bike to ratchet the record up to almost 54 kms, a mark smashed in about 2 months by first Miguel Indurain and then Tony Rominger, who clocked a 55.291 km hour in November 1994. Boardman in 1996 broke even Rominger's record by more than a km, clocking a 56.375 km.

Debate stormed, with the traditionalists arguing that all the records since Eddy Merckx (24 years before!) were tainted by advances in bike technology. At about the same time, road rules were updated to forbid the use of different-sized wheels and radical frames, so the "official" record was rolled back to Merckx '72, at 49.431 kms. Boardman's 1996 record was relabeled to "Best Hour Performance." Boardman promptly went out and broke the Merckx record (now also called the "athlete's record") on a "clean" bike (by 10 meters!), so the official record stands at 49.441 kms.

Given the technological bent to many of Armstrong's sponsors, and the public's appetite for big numbers, it seems they would want the biggest record possible, the "Best Hour Performance." But the UCI is unlikely to recognize or promote that record, which might explain why Armstrong's team talks about two attempts, one at sea level and one at altitude: Maybe one would be on a '72-style bike (shooting for 50 kms) and one on the lightest, stiffest, most aero frame ever created, shooting for the Boardman 1996 record.

"I think it would be an amazing spectacle," said Morris Denton, an executive for Advanced Micro Devices, one of Mr. Armstrong's sponsors. "If you look at the crowds Lance draws in the United States and you think about what would happen if you put some kind of marketing effort behind this event, it would be immense."

Armstrong also suggested he would contest the hour in 2001 (way down the linked page), with Italian doctor Michele Ferrari , since convicted of doping, as an adviser. That attempt never happened.

Posted by Frank Steele on January 24, 2005 in Lance Armstrong, Top Stories | Permalink


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I would like to get a ticket to watch what ever record (s) he attemts.

Posted by: Bill Welfelt at Jan 28, 2005 10:18:35 PM

I think Lance should go for both records at both altitudes. The arguements will rage long after Lance is gone, as to which record or which bike or even which altitude he used to his advantage, so yeah, GO LANCE ! Take an attempt another Tour Win, then concentrate on the classics, continue to revolutionize cycling, put a woman on your team, ride hard, and help your best rider win the tour, then retire and train a "young guns team". Give those kids a chance to find the passion!

Posted by: Joseph Coutcher at Feb 3, 2005 12:11:27 PM

As a cancer survivor I really don`t care what Lance does because He has always been an inspiration to many survivors and makes us proud just to be a part of our world which can never be taken away from us and he has done so much nothing else should be expected from him, but if he does choose to do the "tour" I hope to either be there cheering him on in person or to be in front of my T.V. set watching with my heart rooting him on and even if it doesn`t happen he will always be someone who gave me great hope when there didn`t appear to be any. Respectfully Submitted a fan forever Bill

Posted by: William McCarthy at Feb 5, 2005 12:42:58 AM

I think Lance should first go all out to get Tour no. 7, then get the hour record the clean Mercykx way and the Boardman dirty way. Then neither the purists nor the numbers people could complain.

Posted by: Pete Shaw at Feb 17, 2005 6:52:39 PM

Why is the 1972 Merckz bike considered to be at the 'clean'/'dirty' boundary. Surely this is a very arbitrary point - I'm sure this bike was more advanced in many ways than a bike from say 1950, and even more so than a bike from say 1920. What makes advances post 1972, in particular, unacceptable to 'traditionalists'?? Why not prohibit ALL advances in bicycle design, as the traditionalists seem to prefer? Maybe we should all be racing penny-farthings???

Posted by: Jim Rolfe at Apr 21, 2005 5:03:59 AM

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