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MILAN (VN) — Alex Dowsett is putting the hour record back in the spotlight after six recent attempts and with Bradley Wiggins’ ride only one month away.
The Englishman from team Movistar, will begin his ride Saturday afternoon at 13:00 local time (8 a.m. EDT) local time in Manchester, England. Wiggins, after retiring from top-tier road racing with Team Sky at Paris-Roubaix, will attempt to break the record on June 7, 208 miles south, in London.
“The hour record is the ultimate time trial, it’s the case of man and machine against the next man and his machine,” Dowsett told press Thursday in Manchester.
“There’s no tactics, no change in wind, it’s the purist form of a time trial.”
Cycling’s love affair with the hour record has been rekindled since last summer. The two-wheel world turned back the clock to a time when Italian Fausto Coppi and Frenchman Jacques Anquetil raced on Milan’s Vigorelli velodrome.
Since September, eight men have put their name on the list: Six have already tried, three succeeded, and two — Dowsett and Wiggins — are to come.
German Jens Voigt set the first hour record, going 51.110km, the final ride of his professional career. Twenty-five-year-old Austrian Matthias Brändle (IAM Cycling) made a surprise attempt next and set the mark at 51.852km. Jack Bobridge, Thomas Dekker, and Gustav Larsson have also tried, but only Australian Rohan Dennis of BMC Racing was able to reach a new mark: 52.491km.
“I thought he’d be capable of mid-53s, but then I said that about Jack Bobridge,” Wiggins said of Dennis.
“I thought Jack could go 54. I just think that people underestimate it.”
Two other Brits — Graeme Obree and Chris Boardman — dueled in the early 1990s in what turned into an equipment arms race. Cycling’s governing body changed the rules in 2000, standardizing equipment to the type of bike and wheels that Belgian Eddy Merckx used in 1972. It took another rule change in 2014 — allowing pursuit-style track bikes — to rekindle cycling’s love affair with the discipline.
Dowsett has been training for months. The 26-year-old was first due to attempt the record February 27, but a broken collarbone suffered in training postponed his plans. He rescheduled and trained again, planning every minute of his ride with the staff at Spanish team Movistar.
“If you do a time trial, you realize how much rest you get in a road race, in an hour record, you realize the rest you get in a time trial,” Dowsett explained.
“A rest, even a small gear change in a time trial, is a tiny bit of respite you don’t get in an hour record. That’s why the pacing is so important, you never get a chance to recover. We saw that with Jack’s attempt, if you go out of the blocks too hard, you pay later.”
Wiggins is planning as well. He spent his 35th birthday Tuesday inside the London Olympic velodrome training for his attempt. Tomorrow, he races the three-day Tour of Yorkshire. During the second day, Shelby to York, Dowsett will be in Manchester, riding circles.
“[His ride is] not having influence on how I approach the attempt,” Dowsett added.
“I’ve seen on social media, he’s doing 20-minute blocks of 55 kilometers an hour. I’m not going to ride 55 kilometers. If that’s what Brad’s going to do, then I’m going to be one of the first ones watching because it’ll be something to watch anyone ride 55k.”