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Freeman Cebu Sports

Shut up, legs!

ALLEZ - Jose Vicente Araneta - The Freeman

The last time the hour record was reset was back in 2005, when unknown rider OndrejSosenka (49.700km) beat Chris Boardmansrecord (44.491km, 2000)who beat Eddy Merckx’s record (49.431km, 1972). The trio set their marks using a regular bike with steel tubings.

In between where the records of Francesco Moser (51.151, 1974), Graeme Obree, ( 52.713km, 1994), Miguel Indurain (53.040km, 1994), Tony Rominger (55.291km, 1994) and Boardman again (56.375km 1996).

Confused? Are you wondering why the records, instead of getting better, are regressing as the years went by?

Well, you can blame it on the fickle minds of the governing body of cycling, the UCI. There are 60 hour records in four categories: 1- Unified record (from 2014), 2- Hour record (until 2014), 3- Best human effort (1972–2014), 4- IHPVA/WHPVA (recumbent bicycles with fairings)hour record. Are you getting confused now?

In 1994, there was a flurry of records and this was due to the efforts of Graeme Obree, a cycling outsider and who never was a professional cyclist at that time. He was an inventor and eccentric and he designed a bike where his chest was resting on his arms, which was holding the handlebars, parallel to the ground. It was dubbed as the “Praying Mantis” position. He wasn’t a trained cyclist in the conventional mold but he was able to beat the record of Moser. Impossible!

(Another reason for the fight of the hour record was that bicycle frame designs had no guidelines. And with a new material, carbon fiber, they could manipulate the shape of the frames to make it more aerodynamic without the restrictions of the traditional steel frames. So, bicycle manufacturers were trying to outdo each other with the fastest bicycle.)

So, the UCI, in its mysterious ways, instead of giving Obree a lifetime award, banned the position. Obree, instead of getting angry, he got even with an even more radical position, the “Superman”- arms are stretch forward, aka Superman in full flight, and set another record. Other cyclists, including Boardman, benefitted from the Superman position to set records Obree couldn’t beat since the UCI, expectedly, decided to ban the new position!

In its stupidity, the UCI went retro and said that to beat the hour record, the cyclists should use the same equipment Merckx used in 1972.

And so, the hour record became dormant, until Sosenka took the record 11 years later without much funfare. He would later test positive for PED’s.

Jens Voight

This year, the UCI finally got its senses back and tweaked the Hour Record requirements to make it friendlier to the riders and the bicycle builders. The first to make noise was Fabian Cancellara although he was non-committal. Then to the surprise of everyone, it was the recently retired Jens Voight! Voight is probably the most popular rider in the peloton today. Voight is not known as a rider against the clock but he is well known for breakaways that most of the time fail.  He said that, "If you go [with a breakaway], you can either win or not win. If you don't go for it, you definitely won't win."However, he is more well known for the phrase,   “Shut up legs!” He was once asked by Danish TV what he would do if his body gets tired and he told them that- shut up legs!

So last week, he told his legs to shut up one last time, for 60min and beat Sosenka’s record with a 51.115km ride. So after 17 years in the peloton and an estimated 850,000km on the bike, Jensie finally hanged up his bicycle with a royal goodbye.

Now, lets see who will get to the boards next.

CHRIS BOARDMANSRECORD

EDDY MERCKX

FABIAN CANCELLARA

FRANCESCO MOSER

GRAEME OBREE

HOUR

HOUR RECORD

JENS VOIGHT

OBREE

RECORD

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