Fabian Cancellara is set to make an attempt on the world hour record within the next twelve months, either after the world championships in September or immediately after the 2014 Spring Classics campaign.
Speaking to Switzerland’s Italian-language television station RSI on Thursday evening, RadioShack-Leopard manager Luca Guercilena revealed that Cancellara would tackle the hour on the new velodrome at Grenchen, which is the headquarters of the Swiss cycling federation.
Cancellara had previously told Bicisport in 2009 that he planned to attack the hour record “sooner or later” but acknowledged that he would need time to prepare specifically for racing on the track.
The hour record currently stands at 49.7km and was set by Ondrej Sosenka in Moscow in 2005. Sosenka’s career ended when he tested positive for methamphetamine at the Czech time trial championships three years later.
A Cancellara attempt would bring considerable prestige to a record that has lost some of its lustre since the UCI opted to ban tri-bars and re-set the record to Eddy Merckx’s 49.431km from 1972.
That decision saw Chris Boardman’s 56.375km on the since outlawed “Superman” position from Manchester in 1996 downgraded to the status of “Best Human Effort,” and the previous bests set by Francesco Moser (1984), Graeme Obree (1993 and 1994), Miguel Indurain (1994) and Tony Rominger (1994) were also expunged from the record books
Boardman brought the curtain down on his career in October 2000 by bettering Merckx’s record on a traditional bike in Manchester, clocking 49.441, but the best road time triallists of the intervening period have all opted to forgo the hour record.
Lance Armstrong infamously claimed that he was planning an attack on the hour record in 2001 as a means of explaining his collaboration with the controversial doctor Michele Ferrari, but no such attempt was ever on the cards.
Cancellara is currently racing at the Tour of Austria and has built the second half of his season around reaching peak condition for the world championships in Florence. The Worlds road race takes place on September 29, meaning that a Cancellara hour record attempt would be likely to take place in the first half of October, or – if he decides to wait until next spring – in the weeks immediately after Paris-Roubaix.