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Sir Bradley Wiggins... cometh the hour

By Jonathan Bradley

Sir Bradley Wiggins is expected to comfortably surpass the UCI Hour Record on Sunday evening but perhaps more important than the number of laps of the velodrome made by the 2012 Tour de France winner is the star power he brings to the once iconic feat.

When the legendary Bernard Hinault first spoke of "appointments" in the 1970s and 80s, races in the calendar that would warrant his undivided attention, it heralded a trend that would only intensify during the careers of Miguel Indurain and Lance Armstrong.

With the biggest stars increasingly focusing only on the biggest stages, the wider world's interest in the season was eventually reduced largely to the Tour de France and a mere three weeks in July.

It's all a far cry from the time of Eddy Merckx, the greatest of them all and nicknamed 'The Cannibal' thanks to a voracious appetite for victory under any circumstance that brought 525 career wins.

The Belgian's own Hour Record, set at the altitude of Mexico City to much fanfare in 1972, was a career goal and an achievement he ranked alongside victories in the Grand Tours and Classics.

Whether a one-off or not, this weekend Wiggins brings that glamour back to what was once one of the most revered accomplishments in the sport.

Long may it continue.

Belfast Telegraph

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