Trek Factory Racing has denied a report that Fabian Cancellara intends to attempt the Hour record in Aguascalientes, Mexico on 3 August, one week after the end of the Tour de France. The date and venue had been reported this morning by Italian sports daily, La Gazzetta dello Sport, but while the Swiss rider's team say he will be attempting the record, it maintains no date or venue has been finalised yet.
The 32-year-old Cancellara, who last week said he was unlikely to ride beyond the end of the 2016, revealed his plans last November to attempt the record. He has the backing of his Trek Factory Racing team and its bike sponsor, with 15 technicians and mechanics said to be working on the project.
In November, the team's manager, Luca Guercilena, said that Cancellara might attempt the record following the Spring Classics, where he will be defending his titles at the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix, both of which he won last year.
But in a statement issued in response to the Gazzetta's assertion that the rider would then turn his attention to the track ahead of a crack at the record on Sunday 3 August in Mexico, Guercilena said: “We haven’t taken any decision whatsoever about the time and the place for an attempt. As we have said before, the team will communicate in the appropriate time. Any other information that circulates around a possible attempt is premature.”
The team did say, however, that "the hour record attempt is a real project for Trek Factory Racing and an ambition for both Cancellara and the team in 2014."
Guercilena added: “We are working on this project since some time now and we have a series of people managing the project, including engineers at Trek Bicycle. However, there is no present-day reference for this kind of endeavour and we are still studying all of its facets.
"We are in discussions with several tracks around the world, and in terms of timing, I can only confirm that we are no longer considering the period after the Classics for an attempt. The focus for Fabian is now fully on the Classics and an attempt to repeat the success of last year. After Paris-Roubaix, we’ll turn our attention to the hour record and we will have more details.”
The Gazzetta dello Sport had said that after Paris-Roubaix, Cancellara would take to the track to begin his preparations in earnest, breaking off ahead of July's Tour de France, adding that he was unlikely to ride the entire three weeks of the race.
The newspaper added that between 22 July and the eve of the record attempt, he would train on the Aguascalientes track twice a day, the venue chosen both for the smoothness of its track and its elevation of nearly 2,000 metres above sea level.
A rider of Cancellara's standing attempting the Hour, and Tony Martin and Sir Bradley Wiggins also expressing an interest in it, should see the record restored to its one-time stature as a prestigious goal for top riders.
The possible competition between the three evokes memories of the 1990s when Miguel Indurain, Francesco Moser, Tony Romiger, Graeme Obree and Chris Boardman all vied to ride the farthest distance in an hour.
In 1996, Boardman rode 56.375km in the “Superman” position that Obree had developed, but advances in aerodynamic equipment and riding positions led to the UCI rewriting the rules and making a distinction between the Best Human Record and the UCI Hour Record.
The distance that Eddy Merckx set of 49.431km in 1972 was reinstated as the official UCI Hour Record, and would be beaten by Boardman at Manchester in 2000. Using a traditional bike, as the rules now require, he rode 49.441km.
The current record is 49.7km, set by the little-known Czech rider Ondřej Sosenka in Moscow in 2005. In June 2008, Sosenka tested positive for the banned stimulant methamphetamine and its metabolites and received a suspension which ended his career.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.