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So Friday a Sporza Employee Will Attempt the Hour Record...

It won't be quite so crowded, but the Gent Velodrome is the hallowed turf for this clever little stunt.
It won't be quite so crowded, but the Gent Velodrome is the hallowed turf for this clever little stunt.
AFP/Getty Images

I really don't know what to say about this. Remember a few years ago when at least some of us were complaining that the Hour Record was a lost art? Now people can't stop finding it. First Jens! Voigt smashes the record as his last professional act in the saddle, then Mathias Brandle -- a fine but not terribly distinguished Swiss Austrian pro -- ups the ante with his own successful assault on the Hour. Rumors of Cancellara making an attempt got it started. Bradley Wiggins has vowed to take it on, and maybe put it out of reach for a while, next summer.

In the meantime, Ruben Van Gucht, who works for the Belgian sports media giant Sporza in their bike-riding department, will become the first amateur to make an official assault on the record Friday. We amateurs, as it happens, make hour-long efforts which we could call "hour record attempts" if we wanted to all the time. The only real difference is that people will be there to painstakingly record Ruben's attempt, so in the unlikely event that he sets the record, he'll actually get credit. Unlike me, that day I had a 25mph tailwind.

The real difference here is that by working for a media company obsessed with cycling (yay!), Van Gucht has the ability to become the protagonist in an old-timey cycling media gimmick. All he has to do is shut his mouth and train enough so that people will keep watching for at least a half hour, and he's done his job. I'm sure all over Belgium people will be tuning in to the livestream starting at 12.25 Gent time, and probably sticking around for a while.

Sporza, naturally, is running a steady stream of features on the matter. I don't speak Dutch but I'm pretty sure Tom Steels and Iljo Keisse both predict he will smash the effort of Brandle and comfortably set a new record. He does look pretty fit, so this won't come off as a complete lark. And if he gets close... well, he might just succeed in mocking the Hour Record back into obscurity for another decade.

Obviously we will be watching.