European time trial champion Victor Campenaerts formally announced his bid to unseat Bradley Wiggins as the holder of the UCI Hour Record. The Lotto Soudal rider will make his attempt at the Aguascalientes velodrome in Mexico between April 16 and 17 this year.
"The UCI Hour Record is a unique challenge in cycling and to beat it would be a way for me to write a bit of the sport's history," Campenaerts said in a UCI press release.
"I respect Bradley a lot and I do not consider myself as a better athlete than the former Tour de France winner and five-time Olympic champion. However, by making progress and taking into account every possible detail, I hope to have a chance to take over the Hour Record. Personally, the world hour record, the world time trial title and the Olympic time trial title are the three dreams I want to pursue the coming years, starting with the world hour record."
Wiggins set the UCI Hour Record at 54.526 kilometres in less than ideal conditions at the Lee Valley VeloPark in London in 2015. Since then there have been nine official attempts to beat that mark, three by Dane Martin Toft Madsen, two by his compatriot Mikkel Bjerg, and one by American Tom Zirbel, Swiss riders Micah Gross and Marc Dubois and Dutchman Dion Beukeboom.
Bjerg came the closest last October at age 19, covering a remarkable 53.73km and setting a new Danish record in Odense, Denmark.
The Aguascalientes velodrome is one of the fastest tracks in the world, and Vittoria Bussi set the women's Hour Record mark there in September 2018, covering 48.007km and bettering the mark set by Evelyn Stevens in 2016.
But attempting the Hour Record at altitude requires specific preparation, and Campenaerts revealed that he has been in Namibia for six weeks training at the same elevation and temperature he expects to encounter in Mexico. However, he will return to Europe to join Lotto Soudal for Tirreno-Adriatico before travelling to Mexico to hone his form for the Hour attempt.
Campenarts' attempt will be the 18th crack at the Hour Record since the UCI modified its rules to allow for use of aerodynamic equipment. Jens Voigt was the first to set the new mark, holding it for little more than a month before Matthias Brändle took it over. After Jack Bobridge fell shy, Rohan Dennis was next to take the record in 2015, covering 52.491km.
Thomas Dekker made an attempt in Mexico that was 0.2km shy, followed by a failed attempt by Gustav Larsson before Alex Dowsett became the record holder with 52.937km covered in Manchester. That mark held for a month before Wiggins set his record.
UCI President David Lappartient was pleased with the announcement of Campenaerts' attempt. "Victor is a superb specialist who showed what he is capable of by climbing on to the podium at the last UCI Road World Championships. I cannot wait to see how he fares in Mexico in April, knowing the part that altitude can play in outstanding performances," Lappartient said.
After claiming the bronze medal in the time trial at the UCI Road World Championships in Austria, Campenaerts did an encouraging test run at the Vélodrome Suisse in Granges. The 27-year-old earned the sponsorship of sports marketing firm Golazo to finance his attempt.