Francesco Moser thinks Bradley Wiggins is capable of setting a new Hour Record close to 56km, far beyond the current record of 51.852km set by Matthias Brändle.
Moser used disc wheels and aero bars, combined with the benefits of altitude and reported (then-legal) blood doping to beat Eddy Merckx's Hour Record in 1984. He set a distance of 51.151km, which went untouched until Graeme Obree used his innovative aero position to set 51.596 in 1993.
Following the UCI's decision to allow the use of track endurance bikes and aero bars, Jens Voigt and Brandle have set new Hour Records. Jack Bobridge, Rohan Dennis and Alex Dowsett have all announced attempts for early 2015, while Wiggins is expected to make his bid in June after ending his WorldTour road career with Team Sky.
“I think Wiggins has the power, endurance and the track skills for the Hour Record. If he prepares right for it, I'm sure he'll smash it,” Moser told Cyclingnews.
“I've got respect for the riders who have broken the record so far but Wiggins is on a different level. I think he can do something like 56km, up there with the record that Chris Boardman set (56.375km in a Obree 'Superman' position in 1996). I think its right that the best riders go for the Hour Record and Wiggins is the best. If Voigt or Brandle rode an hour-long time trial against Wiggins, they'd easily lose two minutes, if not more. That says it all.”
Moser took advantage of the best bike technology and physiology available in 1984 and has always been critical of the UCI for cancelling several records, including his own.
“It's great that they've changed the rules about the bikes and the result is that lots of people are now going for it. My only criticism is that they should have started from a higher record. Starting from 49km is a joke and people have already broken that distance,” Moser said.
“Before there was a natural evolution of man and machine. Then the UCI decided to go back in time. But in life you can never go back, you can only go forward. Looks at the bikes. The ones they use today are a lot better than the bikes we used. They're lighter, more efficient and more aerodynamic, especially the wheels. When I broke the record, my bike weighed more than 10kg.”
Critical of the Italian media
Moser spoke to Cyclingnews after recently criticizing the Italian media coverage of the Padova police investigation into Dr. Michele Ferrari and the polemics that arose after the UCI decided to award Vincenzo Nibali's Astana team a WorldTour licence despite a string of doping cases.
Moser worked with Professor Francesco Conconi and Dr. Ferrari when he broke his Hour Record and reportedly admitted to blood doping at the time. The practice was only made illegal several years later. Both Conconi and Ferrari went on to work with several professional teams and evidence indicates they were involved in the widespread use of EPO.
“If every other sport was treated in the same way, with all the attention on doping, then I'd accept it. But it's always cycling that is cast in a bad light,” he told Cyclingnews.
“There are doping cases in every sport but they never get the same attention and the same space in the media. If we're going to fight doping, then we've got to do it in every sport. If they did the same kind of testing that they do in cycling in other sports, I'm sure they wouldn't have enough people at the start to hold the races.”
Moser said he is also against suspending riders several years after they won races. He described the decision by USADA to ban Lance Armstrong for life and cancel his seven Tour de France titles as 'ridiculous'.
“I believe that when the race is over and the testing has been done, you can't question things any further. Otherwise we could question every result in every sport. It's ridiculous that they took Armstrong's Tour de France victories away ten years afterwards. I don't want to be misunderstood. We've got to find a surefire system that works, otherwise we should let everyone do whatever they want.”