The hour is cometh for Armstrong?

Lance Armstrong wants to emulate fellow Tour legends Jacques Anquetil, Fausto Coppi, Eddy Merckx and

Lance Armstrong wants to emulate fellow Tour legends Jacques Anquetil, Fausto Coppi, Eddy Merckx and
PICTURE BY TIM DE WAELE Lance Armstrong is apparently poised to take on Chris Boardman's world hour record, four years after first sizing up the Briton's 49.441km mark. Recent reports in the New York Times indicate that an expert taskforce dubbed "F-One" has been formed to aid Armstrong in his preparations, probably for an attempt later this year. The group is said to include Carmichael Training Systems (CTS), Nike, helmet-maker Giro, wheelmaker Hed, Advanced Micro Devices and aerodynamicist Len Brownlie. According to the New York Times, F-One held its first meeting a week ago at the Discovery Channel training camp in Solvang, California. Armstrong made first mention of the hour record on the eve of the 2001 Tour de France. Cynics who saw this as merely the Texan's way of justifying of his links with controversial Italian doctor and hour record guru Michele Ferrari felt vindicated when four years went by without Armstrong taking to the track. Now - ironically, with Ferrari off the scene due to his conviction on charges of sporting fraud in Italy - Armstrong appears committed to the project. In the last two weeks he has even spoken publicly about the pros and cons of possible venues. These include Manchester's notoriously fast track, a velodrome in Colorado Springs, or a new, custom-built arena at altitude in Utah. In Solvang, the 33-year-old American admitted that the hour record has become "a serious consideration". He also claimed to have design drawings of his preferred track, although he did not specify its location. "Obviously we can do it in Manchester where it's been done several times," said the Discovery Channel star. "Ideally we would look for a high-altitude location and as we all know, there are not that many covered velodromes at altitude, so then you're at the mercy of the winds and the elements outside, or the temperature if it's not exactly in the summertime. "We want to do it at altitude and it's just a question of where we go, what we find and if we build a velodrome to do it, and then take the velodrome down," he continued. "And I think that's probably the most likely scenario as of today: Do we want to cover Colorado Springs and resurface it, or do go to Salt Lake City or somewhere like that and build a new velodrome?" A further dilemma for Armstrong and his team is finding a window in a schedule which is already the source of intense speculation. All that is currently certain about his 2005 is that he will skip only Paris-Roubaix of the major spring Classics. Should Armstrong then decide to target a seventh Tour de France win in July, a likely crack at the hour record late in the summer would leave him contemplating his most packed season since his comeback from cancer in 1998. Armstrong must also decide whether or not to limit his interest to Boardman's "official" hour record of 49.441km, with severe restrictions on bicycle technology. The Briton - one of procycling magazine's resident bike testers - also lays claim to what the UCI now calls the "best hour performance". This category allows riders carte blanche to exploit the very latest bike and component technology. Boardman's benchmark in this exercise is 56.375km, set in 1996. The high-tech input of his wheel, bike and helmet sponsors in F-One suggests that Armstrong may be eyeing assaults on both records in quick succession. He said at a recent media event in Las Vegas that one high-impact strategy could be to make a first attempt at sea level in Madison Square Garden and a second stab, perhaps in Salt Lake City, two weeks later. The double-whammy might be a means of taking on both Boardman records.
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