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Wiggins’ push could start round of hour-record attempts

MILAN (VN) — Bradley Wiggins (Sky) could kick off a new round of hour record attempts if he sticks to an announced June 2015 date. His plan could spur on world time trial champion Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), and Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing), who have both expressed interest.

“If I pencil it in, it will be in late June because of the good weather, and it leads on from Paris-Roubaix and the training for that,” the Englishman and 2012 Tour de France winner told Britain’s Guardian newspaper.

“I hope it is there to be broken, and that I can pave the way for the next person, whether it’s Fabian [Cancellara] or Tony [Martin]. I’d like to rejuvenate it, re-establish a mark for everyone to attempt. You can’t underestimate how hard it is.”

Wiggins, who has missed the last two Tours after his 2012 win, has hinted that he may not return to grand tour racing. Instead, he said that his plan is to focus on Paris-Roubaix, where he placed ninth this year, and to return to the track. He wants to race with team Great Britain at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Wiggins has won Olympic gold on four occasions — twice in the individual pursuit (2004 and 2008), once in the team pursuit (2008), and once in the individual road time trial (2012).

Cycling’s governing body, the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) announced on May 15 that it had changed its rules for the hour record, allowing team pursuit bikes like those Wiggins and others have used at the world championships and Olympics.

Prior, to that announcement, the UCI had insisted that riders use traditional bikes in the Eddy Merckx position. The rule change did not help one of cycling’s historic events because only two riders – Chris Boardman (2000) and Ondrej Sosenka (2005) – upped the mark since that 2000 rule went into effect.

Along with the May 15 announcement, the UCI said that the distances achieved in the extreme positions prior to 2000 would stand; Sosenka’s 49.700-kilometre mark remains the record to beat.

Wiggins, 34, will have a good chance at bettering the mark. He won both time trials, near 50 kilometres each, to help him seal his 2012 Tour de France victory. He went on to win the 44km Olympic time trial just over a week later in London.

As Wiggins said, his push could also nudge Cancellara and Martin along. Both riders are proven time trialists, the former winning four world titles and the 2008 Beijing title, and the latter holding three world titles.

“Cancellara and the team are still talking about the record,” team Trek’s general manger, Luca Guercilena told VeloNews at the Tour de France in July. “We have to just decide on an exact date. We never abandoned the idea, we just had to prepare the new equipment after the UCI’s rule change in May.”

Like Wiggins, Cancellara would have a go after a peak of form: after the world championships, the spring classics or a grand tour.

However Simon Thompson, Trek’s Director of Athlete Marketing, said there was no immediate plan, telling VeloNews, “Nothing to report at the moment. Fabian is focused on the world championships as the main goal for the rest of this year, and will assess from there if an attempt at the record is viable in the winter or spring amongst his classics ambitions.”

Martin has discussed the idea, but not in such concrete terms.

“You need to find the right tack, the right period in the year, and you need to balance it with what remains the biggest goal: we still have world championships, where [Martin] wants to win his fourth title,” Omega Parma’s development manager, Rolf Aldag said.

“We will not compromise that for going an hour in circles. It has to be a project, that project has to run more than a year. So if he wants to do it in 2015, then we should think about it soon.”