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Another landmark world record for Filippo Ganna as he breaks 4 minute-barrier for sea level individual pursuit

Second phenomenal ride in 7 days for Italian who last weekend smashed the UCI Hour Record

Filippo Ganna has this evening become the first man to go below 4 minutes in a 4km individual pursuit at sea level as he beat Italian team mate Jonathan Milan to win the rainbow jersey at the UCI Track Cycling World Championships in Saint Quentin-en-Yvelines outside Paris this evening.

Sir Chris Hoy, present as a pundit for BBC Sport, described the 26 year old’s ride as “the equivalent of Roger Bannister’s 4-minute mile.”

Ganna was the existing holder of the sea-level world record, setting a time of 4:01.934 at the world championships in Berlin in 2020.

The world record recognised by the UCI, however, was set at altitude by the American rider Ashton Lambie, who in August last year rode 3:59.930 at Aguascalientes in Mexico.

It’s the second record-breaking performance in a week by Ganna, who last Saturday evening smashed the Hour record in Grenchen, Switzerland.

> Filippo Ganna roars to spectacular new UCI Hour Record of 56.792km

One of his coaches for that phenomenal ride was Dan Bigham, who besides being an aerodynamicist with Ineos Grenadiers also happened to be the existing record holder, setting a distance of 55.548km on the same track in August.

In riding 56.792km, Ganna not only smashed that record, but also went further than the ‘best human effort’ set in 1996 – the year of Ganna’s birth – by Great Britain’s Chris Boardman using a bike and riding position banned under current rules.

Bigham was track centre this evening to watch Ganna clinch the individual pursuit world ride – minutes earlier he had missed out on the bronze medal in the same event when he was beaten by Portugal’s Ivo Oliveira.

And just yesterday evening Bigham and Ganna went head to head yesterday evening as Great Britain took team pursuit gold from Italy – the reigning Olympic and world champions in the event.

Ganna characteristically rides negative splits, gradually building up his speed during the 16 laps of a 250-metre velodrome track, and so it proved this evening as Milan went off quickly, building a lead of more than a second on his compatriot.

Any thoughts that Ganna might be suffering the after-effects of that Hour effort last weekend and yesterday’s team pursuit were dispelled in the second half of the race, however, as first he reeled in Milan then got ahead of him, his pace increasing with each lap.

By the time he started the final lap, it was clear that the record was on, and roared on by a crowd that rose to its feet to cheer him on, he took the rainbow jersey and with it, a second landmark entry in the record books in seven days, completing the 4km in a time of 3:59.636.

> Check out the Pinarello Bolide F HR 3D that Filippo Ganna rode to smash the UCI Hour Record

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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Rendel Harris | 1 year ago

Why is it described as the world record at sea level when, unless I'm reading it incorrectly, it's the outright world record at any level (3:59:636 vs 3:59:930). Feels a bit like describing a world record by Usain Bolt as a Jamaican national record - yes it is but that's not the most impressive thing!

mark1a replied to Rendel Harris | 1 year ago
1 like

I think it's to put the record in some context, i.e. it's a record time and it was done in more dense air/higher atmospheric pressure. It's saying he could have gone much faster at altitude. 

Interestingly, although Lee Valley VeloPark is at sea level, it has an airlock system and the air pressure can also be lowered by raising the temperature, it's one reason why so many Olympic records tumbled in 2012. 

Organon | 1 year ago

Jonathan Milan sounds like a made up name for an Italian person.

Well done FG!

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