The Hour Record: Anyone with more than a passing interest in cycling will know that the hour record is the “in” thing. Jens Voigt set a “new” record last year. New in the sense that he broke the old record, but only due to recent revisions to the rules (most notably the type of bike that can be used). The changes and Voigt’s attempt have prompted numerous others to consider the challenge. Within a month his record was broken by Matthias Brandle. Last week Jack Bobridge made his attempt and despite being ahead of schedule he faded badly and fell short. On Sunday in Grechen it was Rohan Dennis’s turn.
Fresh off his win in the Tour Down Under Dennis had the form and was on track early. Unlike Bobridge Dennis paced his attempt perfectly, increasing his average speed along the way. He passed Brandle’s mark with close to a minute to go and added a further 600 odd metres, setting the new mark at 52.491 kilometres. For the record that is 210 laps of the Velodrome Suisse. Don’t expect that to be the last we hear on the hour mark with Bradley Wiggins almost definite to make an attempt later this year and other cycling and time trial superstars Tony Martin and Fabian Cancellara also considering having a go.
Dubai Tour: John Degenkolb looked in ominous form for the upcoming spring classics with a strong win on the queen stage, which finished with a 300 metre climb on gradients of 17%. But on the final stage he and his Giant team were nowhere to be seen as Mark Cavendish claimed his second stage win and enough time bonuses to secure the overall win. It has been a good week for Cavendish who won two stages, finished second in another and climbed surprisingly well in the stage won by Degenkolb. It is Cavendish’s second career stage race victory and with three wins already this season he will be optimistic about what 2015 has to offer. But he didn’t have things all his own way in the sprints, beaten by Elia Viviani on stage 2. Viviani, with Ben Swift acting as super domestique, showed that he will be one of the sprinters to watch in 2015. He has obviously settled well at Sky and gives them another card to play in the bigger races to follow.
Tour of Qatar: Last nights first stage had a bit of everything. Overall contenders sprinting for bonus points mid stage and crashing, splits in the peloton and some of the overall favourites losing time early and then a messy sprint where no team had enough numbers left to control the finale. Ultimately it was Jose Joaquin Rojas who secured the win, with Tom Boonen in second and the fast finishing Arnaud Demare in third. Given the big name sprinters who finished lower down in the top ten it was a surprising podium. Boonen was one who crashed mid race, along with Peter Sagan. Although only early in the season Boonen has traditionally dominated the Tour of Qatar and he will be looking to lay down a marker over the next week in preparation for his major targets in late March and April.
Herald Sun Tour: Cameron Meyer secured the overall with second place on the final stage to Arthurs seat. The stage was won by Kiwi Paddy Bevin, who finished second overall. Meyer took the overall lead after winning stage 1 and was never headed there after. It was a good week for Orica GreenEdge, with Caleb Ewan winning two stages as well.