The golden hour
The golden hour
On Sunday, Sir Bradley Wiggins will become the latest rider to take on the UCI Hour Record and will bid to break Alex Dowsett’s mark of 52.937km at the Lee Valley VeloPark in London.
Wiggins is, on paper, the ideal candidate for the hour record: a rider with unmatchable pedigree on the track and against the clock, having accumulated three Olympic gold medals on the boards, alongside an Olympic time trial title and a World Championship time trial victory on the road.
The attempt marks one of the last major milestones in the 35-year-old’s career, with Wiggins set to retire after next year’s Olympic Games, where he will bid to win a final gold medal on the track.
No man knows what it takes to beat the UCI Hour Record better than Chris Boardman, who was nicknamed The Professor during his career thanks to his meticulous attention to detail and pursuit of marginal gains against the clock. In the early 1990s, Boardman engaged in a ding-dong hour record battle with fellow Brit Graeme Obree, and Boardman’s ‘best human effort’ record of 56.375km remains the furthest anyone has ever ridden in an hour, though it was achieved using the outlawed ‘superman’ riding position.
Dowsett set the current mark in May after becoming the seventh rider to take on the record since September 2014, following the revision of equipment rules by cycling’s world governing body. Wiggins, however, has spoken of obliterating Dowsett’s mark, aiming for 55.250km, and Boardman believes the former Team Sky rider is capable of going the distance.
“I think Bradley can get over 55km, and, in the standard position not the superman position, that’s quite a feat,” Boardman told RoadCyclingUK at the launch of Aviva’s sponsorship of the Tour of Britain and Women’s Tour. “It’s not a certainty – and a record is never unbeatable – but if he does go over 55km then whoever goes for it next will have to be prepared to fail.
“That’s a big thing for a professional bike rider, because you don’t have to do the hour record, so it could lay dormant for a few years after Brad.”
While, on paper, the hour record is one of cycling’s simplest disciplines, Boardman says any attempt is balanced on a knife-edge and a successful candidate must pull together a number of factors which, if any are neglected, can ultimately result in failure.
So what does it take to break the hour record? We caught up with Boardman to discuss physiology, pacing, aerodynamics and equipment, and psychology ahead of Wiggins’ attempt.
Read what he had to say over the following pages.