Bradley Wiggins sets hour record in London

Bradley Wiggins covers 54.526km in his hour-record ride, eclipsing the mark of 52.937 km set last month by Alex Dowsett

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LONDON (AFP) — Bradley Wiggins smashed the UCI hour record at the Lee Valley VeloPark in London on Sunday.

Wiggins’s distance of 54.526 km eclipsed the previous record of 52.937km set by fellow British rider Alex Dowsett in Manchester last month.

However, Wiggins’s ambitious target of 55km — which he had indicated beforehand might set a record that would stand for a generation — proved beyond the British cycling great.

“I’m just glad it’s done,” Wiggins told Sky Sports. “That’s the closest to knowing what it’s like to have a baby. It was tortuous. You’re counting down the minutes.

“I always compare myself to the greats. I’m just glad to be in the company of those guys. Just to get up there and do that takes a lot of courage. It’s tough.”

He was roared on to the new mark by a packed crowd that included Miguel Indurain, Wiggins’ childhood hero and former hour record-holder, at the velodrome used for the 2012 London Olympics.

Since the UCI, cycling’s world governing body, unified the regulations surrounding the event last year, four riders have held the record: Jens Voigt, Matthias Brandle, Rohan Dennis, and Dowsett.

Wiggins, who had shaved off the beard he had grown since abandoning the sideburns he sported at the 2012 Olympics in a bid to make himself more streamlined, was quickly ahead of the pace set by Dowsett on May 2.

He went through 100 laps at a speed of 54.612kph and broke Dowsett’s record with just under two minutes left.

Wiggins has said next year’s Olympic Games in Rio is likely to mark his farewell to competitive cycling.