Miguel Indurain: The "Extraterrestrial" sets a
new record
Graham Watson

When
Miguel Indurain announced to attack the hour record, the magazines
predicted a sensational mark of 55 or 56 km/h. But some experts were
more
cautious, because Indurain's aerodynamic position on the bike was very
poor 
his head is very high in the air, always well above his shoulders.
But in the road timetrials this did not seem to slow him down very
much...

The actual attempt was finally
well below 55 or 56 km/h. He started very slow and needed 20 km to
match up with Graeme Obree's split times.
After reaching an average speed of 53 km/h, he slowed down again and
needed a sudden outburst between 30 and 35 km to stay above 53 km/h.
He used a Pinarello carbon bike with a very aerodynamic frame and
Campagnolo disc wheels.
As stated in an article
on
"53x12.com" by Dr. Michele Ferrari
, it is likely that Indurain, only 5 weeks after the finish of the Tour
de France, was not at his peak form when he set his record. He also
points out that Indurain's position on the bike didn’t seem
to be
optimal (however, as I mentioned above, it was good enough to win all
the major time trials on the road...) A key factor could be
that
the rider’s track speed is not constant, presenting continued
accelerations and decelerations corresponding to curves and
straightaways.
A heavy rider pays dearly for these accelerations—far more
than a
lightweight.
Finally, at these speeds the onehour record, Indurain clearly suffered
more from the centrifugal force in the curves, since he is about 15 kg
heavier than the "normal" cyclist. (Note that Ondrej
Sosenka
(2 meters tall!) chose the track in Moscow (for his UCI hour
record 2005) which has a length of 333 m,and therefore less centrifugal
forces...)
A scientific paper by Padilla, MujikaI, Angulo and Goiriena describing
the attempt in detail can be found here:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/...t_uids=11007591
(Note that you can download the entire paper from the link at that abstract)
Video of the hour record attempts 1994 (Obree, Indurain, Rominger) on Youtube
Videoclips of the attempt (in spanish) on youtube:
