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Campenaerts tips Ganna to take Hour Record beyond 57km

One for the record books: Victor Campenaerts proudly shows off the new Hour Record mark of 55.089km, set at the Aguascalientes velodrome in Mexico in April, 2019
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Victor Campenaerts retained the UCI Hour Record after Alex Dowsett fell short of his mark of 55.089km in Aguascalientes on Wednesday, but the Belgian believes that world time trial champion Filippo Ganna will eventually surpass him by a considerable distance.

“It wouldn't surprise me if he did around 57.5km,” Campenaerts told Het Laatste Nieuws. “The pity then is that it will be the last world hour record for many decades. Nobody will want to try it again.”

Campenaerts expanded on the point in an interview with Sporza, saying: “Ganna is an athlete of a different level than Dowsett or me. He is the best time trialist of the moment, maybe even the best ever. He is also the pursuiter on the track. If he gives it a try, we will be looking at it wide-eyed.”

Last month, Ganna said that he would "one day" tackle the Hour Record, though he insisted he had no plans to do so in the immediate future, with late 2022 only suggested by the Italian media. The Italian has insisted that he will attempt the Hour Record at sea level "so not to have an asterisk' next to his name.  

Campenaerts set his record of 55.089km in Aguascalientes in April 2019, surpassing the previous mark of 54.256km established by Bradley Wiggins in 2015. Dowsett had held the Hour Record for a little over a month before Wiggins, clocking 52.927km on the Manchester velodrome.

For this latest attempt, Dowsett opted to go to altitude, as Campenaerts had done in 2019. The Briton started strongly on Wednesday and briefly appeared on track to beat Campenaerts’ record only to fade in the latter part of his effort. He covered 54.555km in the hour, falling just over half a kilometre short of the record.

Campenaerts paid tribute to Dowsett for aggressively chasing the record, noting that the Israel Start-Up Nation rider would have come much closer to the 55km mark had be ridden more conservatively.

“I enjoyed Alex's attempt,” Campenaerts told Het Laatste Nieuws. “Respect especially for the way he handled it. He went for it completely, he really rode to break my record. He started a bit too optimistically, in the first minute he went too fast. He shouldn't have done that. But after that he kept the difference within limits for a long time and he stayed very close to me. He exploded at the end. But it was great to see how he kept fighting and even accelerating in those last laps. He never threw in the towel. Dowsett was a worthy opponent.”

Campenaerts has shifted his focus from time trialling in the past year after it became clear that Wout van Aert and Remco Evenepoel would race for Belgium at the Tokyo Olympics, and the 30-year-old was aggressive in the cobbled Classics for Qhubeka this season before winning a stage of the Giro d’Italia in Gorizia.

In 2022, Campenaerts will return to Lotto Soudal and though he seems likely to continue to explore his potential on the cobbles, he admitted that his continuing status as Hour Record holder could convince him to take on Evenepoel and Van Aert in the Belgian Championships next June.

“If I had lost the record, I might never get on the time trial bike again. Now I'm planning to go for a ride on the time trial bike on Thursday. I am suddenly very motivated to try to become Belgian time trial champion for the third time in June,” he told Het Nieuwsblad, joking about the honour of holding the record.

“I'm glad the record is still in my possession, but records are made to be broken. It's also not like I get a bonus from the UCI for every day I hold the record. All I got from them in those two and a half years was the opportunity to celebrate in business class to China for the UCI closing gala.”

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