Jack Bobridge smashes Chris Boardman's 'unbreakable' 4km individual pursuit record

21-year-old Aussie eclipses time that Briton set on now-banned bike and riding position

by Simon_MacMichael   February 2, 2011  

Jack Bobridge (copyrightYellowMonkey:Blnguyen:Wikimedia Commons).jpg

Jack Bobridge has today shattered Chris Boardman’s ‘unbreakable’ world record for the 4km individual pursuit, set 15 years ago using a bike and a riding position both now banned under UCI rules.

The 21-year-old Garmin-Cervélo rider set the new record time of 4 minutes 10.534 seconds in a qualifying heat at the Australian National Track Championships at the Dunc Gray Velodrome in Sydney, taking 0.58 of a second off the time set by Boardman in 1996.

The Briton had set that time in the final of the World Championships in Manchester using his Mike Burrows-designed Lotus bike and the now-banned ‘superman’ position, and with the dropping of the event from the Olympic Games ahead of London 2012, many believed that his time might never be beaten.

Boardman was quick to offer his congratulations, saying on Twitter this morning, "Wow Jack Bobridge broke my 15yr old world record, 4:10.5 that is an amazing time, congratulations to him."

After his record-breaking ride this morning, Bobridge, who last month won the Australian National Road Championships, said, "I can't really explain it at the moment, I am still stunned,” reports the Cycling Australia website.

“I didn’t think that (record) was going to come for a long time, I certainly didn’t think it would come while I was on the track.

“To come around and see that on the board, I was honestly quite shocked.

"I thought the clock had stopped a lap early, so I had to look at it a few times, but then I saw everyone going crazy, and then it started to get a little overwhelming,” he added.
Bobridge maintained that his performance had come as a particular surprise given the fact that of late he has been concentrating on the road rather than the track.

“I had no idea that I was going to ride that today as I haven’t really been on the track since [the] Oceanias last November, and have been training hard on the road, so to come here and ride that it is a massive surprise,” he revealed.

“This morning I decided to come down a gear because it is quite humid in here and obviously it was the right decision, it was perfect gearing.

“Then after the first few laps, once I got my breathing right, I knew I was on.

"I really controlled that third kilometre and tried to stay comfortable and then really let everything out over the last four laps.”

The South Australian had been given an incentive to put in a strong ride after Rohan Dennis, riding in the previous heat, broke Bobridge’s existing Australian, Australian All Comers and Australian championship records.

“Today, when Rohan came out before me and pulled a 4.13, I was sitting in my seat and I was definitely scared,” explained Bobridge, adding “But I am quite a competitive bike rider and obviously I didn’t want all my records to be taken.”
Bobridge will now ride later today against Dennis to decide who will win the gold medal and national title.

Dennis too may have a point to prove in that race, having set what was – all too briefly – the fastest time ever under current UCI rules before Bobridge’s storming ride.

A year ago today, again at the Australian National Track Championships, Bobridge had ridden his way into the record books with a time of 4 minutes 15.764, eclipsing the previous record set the previous Autumn in Manchester by Geraint Thomas.

The axing of the Individual Pursuit from the Olympic programme deprives the London 2012 Games of what, in track cycling at least, could have been one of its most dramatic events.

Bradley Wiggins, who would have been chasing a third gold in a row in the event, would have faced competition from Thomas and others for the chance to represent Great Britain at home, and besides Bobridge, current world champion, Taylor Phinney of the United States, would also have had medal hopes.

10 user comments

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Now that is really quite good.

two wheels good; four wheels bad

posted by cat1commuter [1448 posts]
2nd February 2011 - 12:00


blimey, impressive stuff. One to watch for sure.

not all carbon is the same.

Jon Burrage's picture

posted by Jon Burrage [1081 posts]
2nd February 2011 - 12:45

1 Like

Strewth, a good effort.

But don't exaggerate in the headline - taking 58 thousanths of a second off a previous record hardly warrants "smashes", but I do understand it reads better than "Jack Bobridge shaves a tiny bit off Boardman's record".

posted by John G [53 posts]
2nd February 2011 - 13:57


Think there's one too many zero's in that, shouldn't it be 0.58 not 0.058

posted by adrianw [2 posts]
2nd February 2011 - 14:09


Yes it should, duly updated. sorry about that.

reflecting on Bobridge's time, we were drawn into wondering how Chris Boardman in his prime would have got on against Bobridge now, riding the same kind of machine. Do you think that modern bikes have improved sufficiently that they're now as efficient as the Superman Lotus was back then? Discuss...

Also, are tracks getting faster? it'll be interesting to see what times are like on the London track once that opens for competition, as there's plenty of talk of it being the new fastest track in the world. Is there a way of objectively quantifying whether one track is faster than another, or is it always going to be subjective?

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7855 posts]
2nd February 2011 - 14:53

1 Like

This guy also smashed the field just a few weeks ago at the Aussie national championships.

Rode solo to bridge a gap to the break, pushed it along and then rode away for the last 30km.

That was against a field with 50 pro or pro-continental riders including people like Simon Gerrans and Matt Goss.

He's the love-child of Stuart O'Grady and Fabian Cancellara, with Jens Voigt as fairy-godmother.

abudhabiChris's picture

posted by abudhabiChris [696 posts]
2nd February 2011 - 17:38

1 Like

Is there a video of this ?

This kd's gonna be huge.

posted by shrinkinbggaz [117 posts]
3rd February 2011 - 8:14

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Dave, to get a handle on the degree of possible advantage of the superman position you'd have to talk to wind tunnel chaps and time trial specialist. I am sure there are intense discussions elsewhere already, as keen TTers (not just professional teams) are always looking to find a tiny advantage in aerodynamics because it is such a significant part of the equation.

Chris was at the very limit of what could be achieved 15 years ago. I think his demeanour has allowed people to label him 'boring' or a geek, which I think doesn't do him justice. We can only wonder what Graeme Obree might have done if he had eaten something as well as marmalade sarnies.

A few things have changed since then. IIRC G's 4:15.015 in 2009 was done when he had eased after catching his man (though to Bobridge's credit 5 seconds is a big margin at this level). Don't forget the track itself and even the conditions can influence the times somewhat.

Simon E's picture

posted by Simon E [2415 posts]
4th February 2011 - 13:25

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Good points, Simon. Maths isn't my strong point, but a quick calculation suggests Bobridge would have had a 9 metre gap over Boardman's time which, if you saw it on TV as a split screen, would be pretty significant.

But as you say, different conditions, different styles etc mean that this will always be one of those sporting debates, like Ali vs Tyson, or Borg vs Federer, say, to give just a couple of examples, that fans will have to debate without ever reaching a settled conclusion.

It's a crying shame that the IOC and UCI, in their infinite wisdom, have decided to deprive London 2012 of what could have been one of the great events of the entire games - even with the possible absence of two of the four fastest men ever due to the one rider per country rule (Bobridge presumably getting the Aussie place over Dennis, and Wiggo perhaps allowed to go for the hat-trick in place of Geraint Thomas).

Having said that, the prospect of a GB vs Australia final in the Team Pursuit in what is now exactly 18 months' time really is something to look forward to, bring it on!

Simon_MacMichael's picture

posted by Simon_MacMichael [9505 posts]
4th February 2011 - 13:45

1 Like

shrinkinbggaz wrote:
Is there a video of this ?

This kd's gonna be huge.

I had a look around the internet, Gaz, but the only 2011 Australian National Track Championships video I can find is a speed-skating relay (on wood, not ice) that is curiously reminiscent of a Madison where the riders have forgotten their bikes Thinking


Simon_MacMichael's picture

posted by Simon_MacMichael [9505 posts]
4th February 2011 - 13:49

1 Like