By Shane Stokes
Although he admits to being disappointed to lose his athlete's hour record, Chris Boardman has congratulated the Czech rider Ondrej Sosenka for his efforts. The Czech rider recorded a distance of 49.7 km in Moscow yesterday afternoon, improving the old standard by 259 metres. The record has yet to be ratified by the UCI.
"Records will always be broken," Boardman told Cyclingnews today. "Just take a look at Lance Armstrong's achievements as an example. So I never expected this one to be an exception to that rule. Yes, it is always a little sad to see something that you worked for superceded, but I am happy to accept that that is life. I was lucky to have the honour of being the first to resurrect this record and thanks for that must go to Peter Keen, my former coach, and Roger Legeay, my former team manager, who came up with concept that the UCI then adopted."
In line with the requirements of an athlete's hour record, Boardman's 2000 record was set on a bike similar to that used by the Belgian Eddy Merckx when he set his 49.431 standard in Mexico, 1972. The Briton's farewell ride as a professional saw him add ten metres to this mark, the new record standing for almost five years.
"I have not yet seen any images of Sosenka's attempt but providing he broke it in the same spirit in which it was conceived - in other words, a round tubed bike with no aero advantages and full doping control procedures, then I offer him my warmest congratulations," he says.
"The mark was always going to be beatable; hard but beatable, so I can't say as it came as much as a shock. That said, I am somewhat surprised from the quarter from which this came. Despite being 29 years old, perhaps this achievement means we will now see Sosenka step up another level in the world of cycling."
Cyclingnews asked Boardman about his requests earlier this year for the UCI to take and store blood and urine samples for future testing. At the time he said that this would ensure a level playing field for all record attempts, as well as helping Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong - who was then considering a record attempt - to convince his doubters that he was clean.
He still feels this would be a good idea. "I am certainly not insinuating anything regarding Sosenka's efforts, a person whom I know nothing about, when I say it would be great for the record itself if the UCI could take steps to take and store samples for future retrospective testing," he said. "That was something I asked for before my attempt, but it was sadly never put in place. This would allow the public to have complete faith in this blue ribbon record and remove any possible speculation."
Just as Graeme Obree's improvement of Francisco Moser's hour record (now called the absolute hour record due to the technological advancements employed) did twelve years ago, Sosenka's breaking of the mark will presumably lead to a burst of new attempts on the standard. However, the list of potential riders for such a bid is extremely unlikely to include Armstrong, who will retire from cycling after this year's Tour ends on Sunday.
"I was a little sad to hear Lance was no longer going to attack the record. That could only be good for its ultimate long-term status," says Boardman. "But I can't say that I blame him, as what else has he got to prove?"