UCI Hour Record delights Wiggins
Sir Bradley Wiggins gave everything he had to raise the standard of a “torturous” and “relentless” UCI Hour Record but the Beamonesque mark he targeted was beyond even him.
Tickets sold out in seven minutes to watch Wiggins ride around in circles for 60 minutes, targeting fellow Briton Alex Dowsett’s record of 52.937-kilometres.
And the 2012 Tour de France champion, four-time Olympic gold medallist and world time-trial champion delivered in 54.526km.
Sir Bradley Wiggins completed a total distance of 54.526 kilometres
He had the strength to raise his bike above his head in celebration.
“I’ve got to be happy with that. I couldn’t have done much more,” Wiggins said.
“That’s raised the bar a fair bit to what the existing record was. For sure it will deter people or make them think twice about it.
“It’s the first real big marker now.”
Wiggins had set himself a target of over 55km (220 laps) and a record which would last a generation, thus bearing comparison with Bob Beamon’s long jump world record from 1968 which lasted almost 23 years.
He did everything in his power, even shaving his beard styles without sideburns, to perform, but the conditions at the Lee Valley VeloPark – formerly known as the Olympic Velodrome – were not conducive to such a distance and Dowsett may be among those encouraged to try again.
Wiggins recorded the same distance to that achieved on Wednesday in a full dress rehearsal at lower – and therefore more favourable – pressure.
“I couldn’t have done any more today with the conditions.
It was 1030 (bar) pressure,” Wiggins added.
“I keep banging on about pressure, but it was probably the worst weekend to have done it in the last couple of months.
“That was about as far as I was going to go under those conditions today.
“Perhaps not as far as I maybe have dreamed or hoped had the conditions been different, but (I’m) satisfied nonetheless.
“If I’d had had 1000 dead today instead of 1030 I reckon I’d have gone 700m further.”
For the 35-year-old Wiggins it was a one-time opportunity, with the Rio Olympics next summer likely to be his swansong.
“I won’t go for it again,” he added.
Wiggins became the sixth rider to win the Tour and claim the Hour Record, which is said by those who have accomplished it to be their toughest athletic challenge.
Wiggins quipped it was the closest he would come to childbirth, but believes being in possession of the yellow jersey and under siege from all was a more exhausting experience.
He even referenced an attack from former Team Sky colleague Chris Froome in the 2012 Tour.
He added: “I was in a lot of pain the last 10 minutes.
“Try leading the Tour for two weeks, that’s bloody hard.
Looking over your shoulder every two….
“I don’t think it will ever surpass the Tour in terms of the intensity.”
Asked how he will celebrate, Wiggins said: “By standing up for a start. Struggling to sit down at the moment.”
Shorn of the beard he has grown since his distinctive sideburns sported in 2012 attracted too much attention, Wiggins was clearly keen to get started.
He began ahead of his scheduled start while Sky Sports was on an advertising break.
“I was just ready to go. I’ve waited long enough,” Wiggins said.
Roared on by the partisan crowd, which included fellow Tour winner and one-time Hour Record holder Miguel Indurain, he speed was consistently around 54.6kph, well ahead of the pace set by Dowsett in Manchester on May 2.
He passed Dowsett with just under two minutes to go on a challenge which was more mental as he knew his physical capabilities.
“When you’re out there you think it’s never going to end,” he added.
“You just try to break it down to little segments. You keep trying to give yourself hope.”
Wiggins would like to see multiple road time-trial world champions Fabian Cancellara of Switzerland and Germany’s Tony Martin bid for the record and thinks Dowsett, who is 26, may have another go.
“I wouldn’t discount Alex. If he thinks it’s possible he’ll have a go at it,” Wiggins added.
“He’s probably got another eight years to have a go at it.”
His next major goal is next March’s London Track World Championships, where the team pursuit is the big goal, but Wiggins may also ride the 4km individual pursuit in a bid for a fourth world title in the non-Olympic discipline.
By then his beard should have grown back.
“I feel naked without it,” Wiggins added.
“It’s just a commitment to knowing you’ve done everything. It’s game time. It’s not a fashion show.”