Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), the governing body of professional cycling, announced changes this morning to the hour record—how far can you ride in an hour—considered the sport's most prestigious record. Challengers can now ride their endurance competition bikes on the track (equipped with aero bars, disc wheels, and aero helmets) and have their record stand.
In 2000, the UCI ruled that any attempts to break the hour record had to be done on traditional bikes, much like the one Eddie Merckx rode in 1972. That effectively killed interest in the event among professional cyclists who weren't able to use modern equipment.
After the ruling, the men's record decreased by about four miles. The UCI struck down attempts that didn't comply with the new rule, canceling records set by Graeme Obree on his washing-machine-built "Old Faithful" and Chris Boardman for riding in "Superman position."
The UCI dubbed the men's and women's records—Boardman, 56.375 kilometers, and Jeannie Longo-Ciprelli, 48.159 kilometers, both set in 1996—"Best Hour Performances," stripping the aero-bar riders of certain glory.
With today's ruling, UCI president Brian Cookson expects big-time riders will hit the hour track again and chase the now-standing distances to beat: 49.700 kilometers (about 31 miles) for men and 46.065 (about 29 miles) for women.
Earlier today, Cycling Weekly rumored that Trek-rider Fabian Cancellara may announce his pursuit of the hour's hot seat tomorrow.