Jensie, Tony, Fabs, Matthias, Jacky Bobby, maybe Thomas. Off the back of the UCI rule changes that have completely overhauled what was, 'the hour’, the hour record has captured the imagination of a number of the sport’s big hitters. It hasn’t, however, captured mine.
7 Apr 2015 - 11:32 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2015 - 3:38 PM

It's just that I don't get it. I don't get it, and I don't love it. There was a romance to the notion of the hour that existed because of its timelessness. That timelessness was anchored in the strict rules riders had to abide by to undertake it; a Merckx-era bike, limits on rider position and equipment, and a rawness to the whole event that stripped down athletes to the bare essentials.

A bike. A man (or woman). An hour.

It meant you could, if you wanted, lineup on any given velodrome in the world, on a bike that you could probably source from any second-hand bike store, and ride a sixty-minute effort against the yardstick of the best. Merckx, Moser, Boardman.

That's what attracted Cancellara to it when he set out to attempt the record earlier this year. A chance to measure oneself against history. And isn't that what makes most sport great? The legend?

The ability to replicate an activity, be it on a football field, a velodrome, or swimming pool, that is, for all intents and purposes, the same; from the under-7s to the professional ranks. Something to which we can all relate. We can all appreciate the skill, the ability, the physical capacity required, because we can all go out and, at least attempt, the same.

Swimming a sub-25 second 50m. Running a sub-10 second 100m. Hitting the top-corner from outside the 18-yard box.

And then it all changed.

When, in May, Cookson announced the record would be overhauled with several sweeping changes, he destroyed the romance, and in the process sealed the event's future irrelevance. Okay, he encouraged a tech arms race and probably cashed in on a few major brands funnelling money into the sport, but he lost what it represented. He lost the charm. Which, unsurprisingly, made Cancellara rethink, then scrap his attempt.

"The whole appeal of the hour record for me is that you are competing against riders from the past," Cancellara said at the time. "I would have loved to race Eddy (Merckx) in the classics, or in a time trial, but it's not possible. The hour record has this charming side to it that I like a lot. Now it's going to be different."

So some guys on track bikes have now ridden around a velodrome faster than a new arbitrary mark set by the UCI. And a few more might do the same. As John Oliver would say, whoop-di-doo. Seriously. Because the biggest problem the hour faces is that left without its history, its meaning, its relevance, we're now faced with the possibility of watching 60-minutes of one rider, going in circles, on a space-age rocket bike. A prospect that, once the novelty wears off, most will find, is positively dull.

Sorry if I burst anyone's bubble, but I couldn't go on pretending.