Oh my, it’s back already! The UCI men’s hour record is once again under fire and this time the big guns have been primed… Pippo Ganna is having a go. This attempt has been talked about quite a lot since Ganna joined Ineos in 2019, a team well known for having a go at the hour record and the employer of the current holder of the men’s record. Only six weeks ago I was writing speculative blogs in Cycling Weekly about whether or not Dan Bigham, said current hour record holder, aero wizard and CTT hitter, was going to break the record! Dan went on to break the hour record and set Ganna a target of 55.548km in an hour. To put that into perspective, it’s over a kilometre further than Wiggins managed in 2015 and Bigham did this with considerably fewer watts! The aerodynamic gains achieved since 2015 are astounding.
The thing that makes this hour record attempt so different is that Bigham’s massive aerodynamic gains are not only accessible to Ganna, but he’s actively been helping Ganna make them too. It shouldn’t be underestimated how hard it is to get as aero as Dan did for his attempt – it’s just as big an achievement as doing the huge watts that Wiggins did in 2015. At the end of the day, the aim is to go fast – not get a little virtual Training Peaks medal for a power PB! With the expertise of INEOS, Bigham and their partners and Ganna’s huge watts, I am expecting something big. Ganna himself has said, “I think the record can be broken” in a typically understated comment from the big Italian.
What is the hour record?
For the uninitiated, the hour record is a pretty simple concept whereby you ride your bicycle as far as you possibly can in an hour. The current men’s record of 55.548km was set by Dan Bigham (you can read our previous hour record blog here) on the 19th of August 2022, the women’s record of 49.254km was set on the 23rd of May 2022 and is held by Ellen Van Dijk (interestingly though, she took it off Dan’s fiancé Joss Lowden). There are a couple of rules that the bike has to abide by, but basically it needs to be done on a velodrome and on a track bike (with some specific rules about position and such to prevent attempts being done on a fixed gear recumbent). In recent years, interest in this record has grown – seemingly going against the grain of time trials becoming less popular with World Tour race organisers.
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Who is Filippo (Pippo) Ganna?
Pippo Ganna is an Italian road cyclist. He’s 26 years old and specialises in the time trial. He was, and still is, an excellent endurance rider on the track. He has a number of world championship wins including four individual pursuit, one team pursuit, one team pursuit olympic gold, two time trial world championships and a whole bunch of other medals and World Tour time trial wins. The guy is the best time trialist in the world. Ganna is a big lad for a professional cyclist, weighing in at 83kg and standing at 193cm and has shown some obscene power numbers. He’s as close to Captain America as a professional cyclist can get. He rides for INEOS Grenadiers and recently finished 7th at the world championships after a disappointing ride – we all have off days.
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The team and its sponsors have put a huge amount of effort into this attempt from Ganna. In a recent press conference he said, “The Team puts so much energy and effort into these projects, and our partners, from Pinarello and the new prototype bike, to a fully customised skinsuit made by Bioracer – they’ve done their part so now it’s my turn. I’m going to feel really good stepping into that velodrome. Mentally that’ll already give me some extra metres.” It’s very clear the team and sponsors are confident in Ganna and he also seems confident in himself.
When and where is the attempt taking place?
The record is taking place at 8pm local time in Grenchen, Switzerland, on the 8th of October (7pm UK time). This is the same velodrome that was used for Dan Bigham’s attempt, which was used for a bit of a (very successful) test run for the attempt from Ganna to do something extremely special.
Why are RCS Sport so upset about it?
The 8th of October is also the date of the final monument, Il Lombardia – an Italian hilly classic race that signals the end of the cycling season. The organisers said that, “RCS Sport considers this coincidence inappropriate. Two events of international level and of great importance for professional cycling should not take place on the same date.” Ganna, also an Italian, has not changed the date of his attempt. The attempt starts at 8pm, several hours after Il Lombardia has finished, it’s not clear why RCS Sport are upset about this.
Will he do it?
Yes, but Bigham’s mark is not an easy slam dunk by any stretch – even for a rider of the calibre of Ganna. Ganna has ridden 57.5km for half an hour and this was roughly a year ago. It’s hard to emphasise how completely obscene this actually is. Since then, assuming Ganna has come on a bit and the aerodynamic advances made by the team have made a significant difference it seems genuinely possible that the Italian could crack 57km, which is a record that would probably stand for quite a long time. The attempt wouldn’t be taking place unless everyone involved, including Ganna himself, were confident that he could do something special. The attempt will, hopefully, be live streamed for free on Youtube as over attempts have been in the past.
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