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.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.