There has been a lot of talk, and great deal more speculation, recently about The Hour; cycling’s supposed Blue Riband event, which has lain dormant for a few years, bogged down by anachronistic rules and the weight of history. The record has been bettered once since Chris Boardman’s definitive ride of 2000, but by such a large margin (and by a rider with more doping positives than wins on his palmares) that there is a tangible level of discomfort to be felt when it is discussed. Cycling is well versed in the arts of cynicism these days and the general feeling is that The Hour is in need of new life and a new, credible record holder.
Fabian Cancellara’s claim last month that he will make an attempt on The Hour in 2014 potentially supplies both those needs. His talent and credibility are enough to appease even the most strident of cynics that his is a name worthy of the event and it’s undoubtedly glittering history. More intriguingly perhaps, his confirmation of an attempt at this stage in the season is creating ripples of interest across the sport, with other big names quickly being linked to making a challenge next year. The record has traditionally seen flurries of attempts followed by years of inactivity so the hope (and, in some quarters, the expectation) is that Cancellara will kickstart a new cycle of competition. Bradley Wiggins and World Time Trial champion Tony Martin are the two names at the head of everyone’s fantasy Battle for the Hour. Each has the capability and the stature required but do either have Cancellara’s cojones to publicly commit to an attempt at this early stage?