Britain’s Alex Dowsett broke Rohan Dennis’s UCI Hour record in Manchester this afternoon. The Australian’s record stood at 52.491km. Dowsett, who had also pushed Dennis into second place in the Commonwealth Games time trial, managed 52.937km.
“In my naivety, when I started track racing at the age of 15, I pitched up to a track league and asked if anyone ever tried the hour record in the track league session, and I got laughed at,” said Dowsett prior to his attempt.
Presumably, no-one’s laughing now.
Dennis had slowed in the final ten minutes of his attempt, but Dowsett did not and it was at around this point that he first went ahead of the Australian. From then on, it seemed the only question was not whether he would break the record but by how much distance.
“The first thirty minutes were easy, compared to what I expected,” said the new record holder. “The last 10 minutes were a bit grippy,” he added, presumably with a degree of understatement.
Part of the motivation for Dowsett’s attempt was to raise awareness of haemophilia and in that sense he has arguably achieved an even bigger victory.
Earlier this week, he told road.cc how being a young haemophiliac had been tough. “There was only a predicted gloomy outcome, talk of wheelchairs, crutches, joints fused in place or replaced, a far cry from the Alex you see before now.”
He has spoken on a number of occasions about the support his parents have given him over the years and says that the sacrifices they made are why he was happy for his mother to miss today’s attempt. While his dad was present, his mum was on a cruise in Norway, which had been booked before he was forced to reschedule his attempt after fracturing his collarbone in a crash in training.
Dowsett told AFP that he hoped his effort might prove an inspiration to others with haemophilia.
“What we’re trying to do for both the haemophilia community and the rare disease community, and anyone who has had adversity to overcome, is be a source of motivation and inspiration.
“We try to show that you can’t let haemophilia dictate your life, even if it shapes your life. When I was a kid I was told I couldn’t play contact sports so I did a lot of swimming which meant that when I tried cycling, I was pretty quick straight away.”
Pretty quick indeed.
The next significant attempt on the Hour will come from Sir Bradley Wiggins who will look to beat the record on Sunday June 7 at the Lee Valley VeloPark in London.