Part of my upcoming Oscar Egg bio in which I discussed the performances by Berthet and Faure and the UCI's historical campaign against aerodynamics, the Moser performances which were illegal, the counter-reform of 2000 and the counter-counter-reform of 2014.
I fail to see how it can be disputed that the Hour Record should have strict rules with regards to aerodynamics. The contest was really falsified by Moser and the UCI's laxness. Wake up, "cycling fans" !
1933 : New Technologies to Break Egg’s Hour
A) Berthet’s Streamliner
By 1933 there were rumours of a return to competition for Oscar Egg in order to reach the 50km mark in an hour with the new rocket bike that he manufactured: http://bentmania.free.fr/site/index.php/velo-couche/velo-couche/une-petite-histoire-du-velo.html
He never came back but old rival Marcel Berthet took it seriously and did go for it, at age 47 on a “streamliner”.
The story of these hour performances non-sanctioned by the UCI is VERY important as it gives historical background for the UCI’s decision (anno 2000) to cancel the “records” on aero-bikes since Francesco Moser in 1984 and rehabilitate the Merckx record and shows how absurd and anti-tradition the decision by the UCI in 2014 was to tolerate again “devices that cut wind resistance.”
But first we need to give some sort of historical perspective to Berthet’s new performances.
Already in the very first cycle races riders realized that drafting wheels cost a lot less effort to maintain the speed than leading. From that observation, some riders started racing behind motors or tandems, they were called stayers. Along came the first tandem-paced or motor-paced hour records, the latter exceeded 100km in 1913. http://bentmania.free.fr/site/index.php/velo-couche/velo-couche/une-petite-histoire-du-velo.html
The derny-paced hour record still exist today and is owned by Dutchman Maas van Beek, since 2012. Who in the cycling world would consider a motor-paced hour record as a genuine hour record? Nobody. Yet the aim of motor pacing is just the same as that of the modern aero-bikes: cutting wind resistance. Therefore, it should be logical for the UCI to treat the two the same way!
So by 1913 the magazine “L’illustration” reported that “the motor-paced Hour record exceeded 100km while the Hour record without pacemaker was only just 43km.” What is known today as the “Hour Record” has often been labeled “Hour Record without pacemaker” (“record de l’heure sans entraineur”). This fact illustrates once again that riders have never been entitled to all the most advanced technological devices in order to break the official Hour Record, unlike some liberal idealists might think, otherwise motor-pacing would be allowed in the same category as the official Hour Record!
However still in Autumn 1913 while he was the Hour record holder Marcel Berthet started working with an expert in aerodynamism and a pioneer in aviation: Étienne Bunau-Varilla.
Bunau-Varilla was an airplane pilot who took part in the first internetional air meeting in Reims in 1909 with a Farman biplane. It should be mentioned that French/British aviator Henri Farman was a cyclist and even a French stayer champion. So were the Wright brothers. Along with engineer Marcel Riffard, Bunau-Varilla designed the so-called “Vélo-Torpille” (Torpedo-bike) with a special removable fairing in order to cut wind resistance. The machine was nicknamed: “Berthet’s Egg” (!). Berthet broke several records with it in 1913:
250m in 17.4”
5km in 5’46”04
1km in 1’04” despite strong side wind and later in the same day in 1’02”. He broke the record by 8”, says an article from “Le sport illustré” http://veloretrocourse.proboards.com/thread/1056/maillots-tales-2-marcel-berthet
The article noticed that Berthet was not even a sprinter and wonders what the likes of Gabriel Poulain, Frank Kramer or Léon Hourlier would have done with the same machine.
Egg set a world record for the 1km flying start at ~1'08", one year later.
On Christmas’ Eve Berthet raced a pursuit match against tandem riders Charron and Rousseau and improved is 5km record: 5’39”03.
Some German manufacturers like Göricke and Brennabor prepared their own versions of the Torpedo-bike and Germany’s Arthur Stellbrink broke Berthet’s record in Berlin in early 1914: 5’23”.
The UCI decided to stop the madness after that event and so article 31 of the UCI ruling in 1914 said:
"Les machines de tous types sont légales, équipées ou non de composants tels que changement de vitesse, roues libres, etc., à condition qu'elles fonctionnent seulement par la force de l'homme, qu'elles ne requièrent pas d'appendice ou dispositif pour réduire la résistance de l'air et qu'elles n'excèdent pas les dimensions de 2 mètres en longueur et 75 centimètres en largeur. Ceci s'applique aux machines à un seul cycliste qui occupent une seule file".
Which roughly translates :« Machines of all kinds are legal, equipped or not of components such as gear shifting, freewheels, etc on the ground that they are functioning by the only strength of man, that it does not require any appendix or device to cut wind resistance and that it does not exceed a length of 2m and a width of 75cm. This applies to the machines with only one cyclist who occupies only one line.”
The records by Berthet are not completely cancelled though because the UCI would assign to them the label: “record with bike equipped with a device to cut wind resistance”. Doesn’t this label ring any bell? It’s roughly the same kind of labels that the UCI will apply to the post-Moser record in 2000: “Best Hour Performance”!
History repeats itself. This website
confirms this fact: “Starting from 1913 records were broken with aerodynamically faired racing cycles (5, 6). However, the governing body of bicycle racing, the Union Cycliste International (UCI), did not view these as regular records and tried to prevent any possible technical advantages to individual racers by changing the regulations. Racing should serve as a comparison of athetes, not a comparison of technology. Because of that the most important incentive to aerodynamic improvements to the bicycle was omitted going forward.”
His sources being:
1. Gronen, Wolfgang: The History of Human Powered Land Speed Records. in: Third International Human Powered Vehicle Scientific Symposium. Proceedings. Indianapolis 1986. pp. 84 – 88
2. Gronen, Wolfgang; Lemke, Walter: Geschichte des Radsports, des Fahrrades. Eupen 1978
All this story shows that Oscar Egg’s final record was the first one performed under the new rules. It means that he was not allowed any devices to cut wind resistance! This article would apply to EVERY Hour record from Egg 1914 till Merckx 1972 (+ between 2000 and 2013) but it was also valid in 1984 when Moser made his two hour performances in January 1984 and he broke it, which the UCI ignored.
A lot of people still think that Moser’s record was legal. On this CN article
a comment says: “He broke no rules, he was fast, but I guess if he used a method later banned, all anyone can really say is that going really fast in that way is just not surprising or worthy of record holder status.”
Nothing could be wronger. Moser blatantly broke rules with his wheels: the spokes being “covered by carbon-fibre fairings to minimize air turbulence”: http://www.timetriallingforum.co.uk/?showtopic=29344
Besides his funny bike with a lower front wheel than back wheel is an obvious device to cut air resistance.
In 1984, article 31 of the UCI ruling of 1914, became article 49. When Moser broke his “record” Merckx lodged a complaint to the UCI via the Belgian federation because it broke articles 49 and 51 of the UCI ruling. The Belgian added that he was offered to race some disc wheels himself in his 1972 attempt but the UCI commissars refused it. Here
is another confirmation that aerodynamic gain were still not tolerated by the UCI in 1984 (even though this website does not mention Moser once but rather talks about the L.A. Olympics): Starting in 1982 Kyle and others developed the technical configuration for the US Olympic Cycling Team for the '84 olympics in Los Angeles. Some aerodynamic components already existed beforehand, e.g. the aero helmets of the Czechoslovakian team. But now for the first time the complete system of the bicycle and rider was aerodynamically optimized. UCI regulations specify a conventional seating position and also forbid any aerodynamic accessories. Not forbidden, however, is the aerodynamic arrangement of functionally necessary components.
This means for example that covering a spoked wheel with plastic sheet is forbidden, since this has no basic function - it serves only aerodynamics. It is different however, if the wheel has so few spokes that it is not sufficiently stable in itself for racing applications and sufficient stiffness can be achieved only by the additional basic function of the disk (made from composite material).
Obviously the UCI rejected Merckx’s legitimate complaint at first. However 16 years later they finally realized that they had made a mistake, while in the meantime the record had been completely falsified (Théo Mathy said it multiple times on RTBF) and at everyone’s reach.
The debate for a (counter-)reform had started by October 1996, shortly before the World Championship, while Boardman made the final performance now labeled “Best Hour”. They issued the “Lugano Charter” which gave strict criteria for the Hour record: triangle frame, 16 spoke wheels of equal diameter etc and a helmet that should only be meant for safety without any devices or shape that intended to cut wind resistance: http://archives.lesoir.be/l-heure-la-plus-eprouvante-d-eddy-merckx-_t-20121020-0251YR.html
This charter was effective in 2000. When this (counter-)reform was enforced, everybody thought it was something new and that the UCI never had such rules before. We’ve just seen that it was just a modern version of its own ruling of 1914 and that all hour record between Oscar Egg and Eddy Merckx were set within the framework of that rule.
So when in 2014, President Cookson of the UCI decided to cancel this rule again, everybody in the cycling world, whether spectators or cyclists, were happy to see an “absurd” rule disappear. It shows how the cycling fans nowadays are ignorant of the sport’s history.
On May 2014 Wiggins told Cyclingnews: "We've lost a decade now of the hour record. It's a shame that they changed it. It's a shame, really, that we've missed maybe [Fabian] Cancellara doing it five or six years ago. So it's good I guess that they've gone back now." http://www.cyclingnews.com/news/wiggins-interested-in-hour-record
It begs the question who ever stopped Wiggins from going for the Hour on a bike that fits with the rules, like all those past greats. Besides, Cancellara did not lose a record because of the rule against aerodynamics but he did lose a record on a traditional bike that he was preparing when incompetent Cookson decided to cancel the rule, encouraging Cancellara to postpone his attempt and to do it on a aero bikes, making his attempt worthless in any case! "It kind of begs the question: Why did they change it in the first place?," Wiggins asked Saturday following stage 7 at the Tour of California.
Wiggins is a talented rider but he’s not a historian. The “change in the first place” occurred in 1984 and was consecutive to Moser’s illegal hour performances. The “Lugano Charter” was a back to the roots reform. It’s the UCI finally being in tune with itself and with its own rule that they set 100 years before Wiggins’ comments: article 31 of the 1914 UCI ruling when they defined for the first time what a real bike was, when they argued that the Hour contest should be a comparison between athlete performances and not between technologies, in the same way as the previously considered a motor-paced hour record as an unofficial hour record. All hour records ever since were broken within the context of that rule from Egg to Merckx, plus Boardman in 2000 and Sosenka (though a 50+ hematocrit rider).
There are no such things as an hour record being set with all the technology available since already Oscar Egg wasn’t allowed to the “vélo-torpille”/streamliner that Berthet had used for records on shorter distances…
Berthet did not intend to break the Egg hour since he knew in advance that the UCI would not sanction it as such. However they were official performances that fell under the category “Vélos spéciaux avec dispositif pour réduire la résistance de l'air" (“Bike with special devices to cut air resistance”).
Berthet had been retired from cycle races for many years but he called back engineer Marcel Riffard to design a new streamliner. These have evolved since 1913 and took several shapes. The one Berthet will use covers the whole bike to the bottom of the wheels. The front wheel was smaller than the rear wheel (just like Moser, 51 years later!). It was called “Vélodyne”.
The first attempt occurred in August 1933 on the Parc des Princes. He covered 48.6km. On September 9 he made a second attempt but a tyre blew and he crashed while heading towards the 52km. The third attempt occurred on November 19 1933 (while Egg’s record had already been broken) and he covered 49.922km. It’s more than the present-day record by Sosenka on a traditional bike! He was aged 47!
B) Francis Faure’s Recumbent
The recumbent was an invention by French manufacturer Charles Mochet who first designed a four-wheeled bike: "Human Powered Vehicle" (HPV) or vélo-car and then divided into two two-wheelers because it was too dangerous.
The story of Faure’s recumbent has been told in great details on this webpage
: On the racing side Mochet was looking out for a good rider to ride his new recumbent bike in cycling events. At first Mochet had Henri Lemoine, a pro cyclist, riding it. Henri was astonished at the comfort and how easy it was to steer. Even so, he couldn't be convinced to ride the Velocar in contests. Perhaps it was the ridicule of other cyclists that kept him from riding it in competition. In any case Henri Lemoine never entered a single cycling event on a recumbent bike, much to his loss.
Mochet's second choice of riders was Francis Faure, brother of the famous cyclist Benoit Faure[inaccurate, author’s comment]. Francis was a decidedly lesser rider than either Lemoine or his brother Benoit. But he was the first serious cyclist who really took an interest in Mochet's recumbent bike. After a few test rides he decided to enter a race riding it.
At the start this event the other riders laughed at him and said: "Faure, you must be tired and want to go to take a nap on that thing. Why don't you sit up upright and pedal like a man?" They quit laughing when Faure poured his annoyance into the pedals and left them all behind. They couldn't even get close to him. Afterwards they were upset that they couldn't even draft his funny bike. One after the other Francis Faure defeated every first-class track cyclist in Europe, taking advantage of recumbents' clear aerodynamic superiority.. The following year Faure was practically unbeatable in 5000 meter distance events. Even in races against three or four top riders, who would alternate pacing a leader, Faure would leave the Velodrome in the yellow jersey. Beside the successes on the track the Velocars and their riders won a lot of road races. Paul Morand, a road racer, won the Paris-Limoges in 1933 on a recumbent bike constructed by Mochet.
After Faure had established new world records on various short courses and other cyclists on recumbents had handily beaten their competitors at road races, Charles and George Mochet as well as Faure decided to attack the hour record, long considered the "ultimate" bicycling record. Mochet wanted to be sure that a record with his split Velocar would be acknowledged. He therefore queried the UCI (Union Cycliste International) in October 1932. He received a positive reply to his letter: "The Velocar has no add-on aerodynamic components attached so there is no reason to forbid it."
We need to correct one thing. Francis Faure is not famous Benoit Faure’s brother. It comes from a mistake by the Miroir des Sports which reported the Six-Days of St-Étienne in 1930 where Benoit Faure was injured and replaced by his “brother Francis”. http://www.france-hpv.org/francis_faure/index.htm
The response given by the UCI to Mochet is testament of a few things. First the recumbent does not have anything to do with research in aerodynamics. Second, the UCI at that time was OBSESSED with aerodynamics. Finally, the UCI already could not keep their promise but still who would consider an hour record on a recumbent as a proper hour record. So when Faure started his attempt, he clearly went for Egg’s record, unlike Berthet.
The website Helsinki.fi continues: The 7th of July 1933 was to be the decisive historical day. Francis Faure rode 45.055 km (27.9 miles) in one hour on a Paris velodrome and thereby smashed the almost 20 year old record by Oscar Egg. Faure and Mochet's Velocar abruptly grabbed the media's attention. In journals and cycling magazines pictures of the record setting vehicles were being published. Soon questions were asked: Is this actually a bike? Will the Faure record be acknowledged? Will the common bike be obsoleted by the Velocar? Statements, interviews, comments and "political" cartoons all addressed this issue. […]
Rousseau, the French UCI commissioner, brought the issue back into focus. He stated that the UCI and its rules were intended to regulate races, define the legal length and breadth of the bicycle, to prohibit addon aerodynamic aids, but not to define the bicycle itself.
The other commissioners apparently disagreed, and designated a task force which would define, or in effect, re-define exactly what was or wasn't a bicycle. They then voted to recognize the (upright) record of Maurice Richard. Immediately thereafter the [new] definition of what constituted a sport bicycle was accepted by a 58-to-46 vote. The following rules would be in effect in UCI sanctioned racing from that point in history on:
• The bottom bracket had to be between 24 and 30 centimeters above the ground.
• The front of the saddle could only be 12 centimeters behind the bottom bracket.
• The distance from the bottom bracket to the axle of the front wheel had to be between 58 and 75 centimeters.
According to these rules, a recumbent wasn't a bicycle, but something entirely different, despite having two wheels, a chain, handlebars, a seat, and human propulsion. The ruling would take effect on April 1, 1934. It was to be recumbents' darkest day. Faure's record was shuffled into a new category called: "Records Set By Human Powered Vehicles (HPV's) without Special Aerodynamic Features"
Embittered by the decision of the UCI, Charles Mochet wrote an appeal letter to the Union de Cycliste. No luck. Rumors at the time were that the decision "banning" recumbents had less to do with sportsmanship than with economics: The upright bicycle manufacturers and professional riders had money and contacts and together formed a powerful lobbing force.
So the performance by Francis Faure gave birth to a new category: "Records Set By Human Powered Vehicles (HPV's) without Special Aerodynamic Features". Again that category announces the one that the UCI coined in 2000 “Best Hour Performance”. Throughout the years and the decades, they acted the same way but how can we blame them for wishing a “comparison athletes”?
The story of Mochet and Francis Faure did not stop there. They would try to best the Berthet record in the category: “Record Set By Special Bike with Aerodynamic Device” (same source):In 1938 Francis Faure and Georges Mochet decided to try to better the record of Marcel Berthet in the special class. Francis Faure also wanted to be the first cyclist to ride more than 50 kilometers in one hour. They produced a faired Velocar. The frame was modified: Faure sat lower and a smaller front wheel was installed to reduce drag.
On March 5, 1939, Faure rode 50.537 kilometers in one hour requiring under 4:15 minutes to circle the 4000 meter track!
[…] Francis Faure became the first cyclist to travel 50 kilometers in less than one hour without a pace vehicle. He rode 50.537 kilometers on the Vicennes Municipal Cycling Track. The press went wild, both in Europe and the U.S. Pictures of Francis Faure, Georges Mochet and the Velocar appeared in all the bicycling journals.
Marcel Berthet in the "vélo-torpille" in 1913:
With Étienne Bunau-Varilla:
Article of Le sport illustré (which we used to as source) about Berthet 1km performance:
Other picture of the "torpedo bike":
The inside of the bike:
Marcel Berthet in the "Vélodyne" in 1933, with which he made several hour performances:
An article in English:
Francis Faure's recumbent:
The proof that Merckx lodged a complaint after Moser's Hour performances: http://www.timetriallingforum.co.uk/?showtopic=29344