2015 Tour de France now less than a month away, it is certainly time to start thinking about cycling once again. If you've been reading my blog for any length of time, you probably already know that Le Tour is one of my favorite events to follow each year. It is cycling's grandest stage, and a daily dose of inspiration for those of us who like to ride.
This past weekend, 2012 Tour champ Bradley Wiggins, who has all-but given up road racing in favor of returning to the track, set a new UCI hour record. For those who don't know, the hour record is an attempt by a rider to go as far as possible in just 60 minutes. It is conducted on a track instead of the road, and the cyclist rides completely alone. The event has received quite a bit of attention in the past year or so, as last September Jens Voight set a new mark by traveling 51.11 km (31.7 miles) over the course of his ride. Since then the record was broken three more times, with Brit Alex Dowsett the current record holder at 52.937 km (32.89 miles) going into the weekend.
The 35-year old Wiggins, who is known for being a powerful cyclist both on and off the track, managed to smash that mark however, and by most accounts it didn't appear that he was even working all that hard to do so. At the end of the ride, Wiggo had managed to travel an astounding 54.526 km (33.88 miles), beating the old record by a kilometer and a half.
This is an impressive feat for a rider who has struggled with injuries since winning his Tour de France nearly three years ago. He was left off the Sky team altogether last year, and more recently he has expressed his interest in returning to track cycling, which is where he got his early start, and has continued to show his prowess.
After hearing that his record had been broken, Dowseet – who is a road cyclist himself – has already said he would like to try to regain the title. It is unclear as to when exactly he would do that, but it seems that there is a real arms race going on right now to push the hour record even higher. Wiggins has already indicated that this was his one go at the mark, and that he would not continue to try to extend the distance. Considering how impressively he handled the ride, it seems he could probably go further, but having shown what he can do, it seems Sir Bradley has other things he'd prefer to concentrate on.
Congratulations to Wiggins on this very impressive feat. Now who is going to step up to challenge the record next?