Bradley Wiggins has won almost everything there is to win in the world of cycling, but on 7 June he will attempt to break a unique record – the UCI Hour Record.
The record, currently held by fellow Brit Alex Dowsett, stands at 52.937km. Wiggins is confident of besting this figure when he takes to the track at the Lee Valley VeloPark in London, which played host to one of his greatest triumphs: winning gold at the London 2012 Olympics.
Chris Boardman, who set an all-time distance record of 55.250km using a now-banned sitting position, said that attempting to cycle as far as you can in an hour was the most unpleasant thing you can do. Wiggins agreed, but said that was the beauty of this particular record.
"In the same way that the Tour de France, people can't get their heads around racing flat out for three weeks up mountains, if it was easy then everybody would do it. I think there is a beauty in that; how historic the record is for a start, and the people that have gone for it, and achieved it," Wiggins said at an open training session on 2 June.
"It is a record that is so pure in that it is one hour. As far as you can go in one hour. It is not easy, it is a horrible experience. There is a lot of craft to it, in riding the black line [of the velodrome] for one hour. I think all those things are really attractive to me, for this record," added Wiggins.
Wiggins said that the key to success would be overcoming the challenge mentally and focussing on completing lap after lap, a completely different challenge to his success at the 2012 Tour de France.
In order to beat the record, Wiggins will have to complete over 221 laps of the velodrome. Wiggins says he will use each finished lap as a reference point.
"It is just complete focus. I am getting a reference point every sixteen seconds [when he completes a lap], you live for that reference point. So you are going round – there it is, fine, there it is, fine. And you do that 220-odd times. So you are not completely blind – you are not out there wondering what sort of speed you are doing. You are getting feedback all the time and you live by that," said the Olympic champion.
"But I live with the thing also that it is only an hour. An hour goes quite quick. I finished training an hour and a quarter ago. And, no matter how hard something is, there is always an end to it, everything ends. There is always an end point and I like that. Because you know, no matter how hard it is, there will be an end. And I always like the feeling of thinking: '10 minutes from now, just imagine how you are going to feel'. And that is the thing I think about most, when I am in the dying stages of an Olympic final or the World Championships, and you know you are leading and you think in 10-15 minutes you are going to be finished, it is going to be over. Just imagine how satisfying that will be. And that spurs you on. A lot of it is mental, it is how you think, really. You can either think: 'I have 45 minutes to go here', or you can think: 'I only have 45 minutes to go'. A lot of it is how you mentally approach that," insisted Wiggins.
The venue holds many memories for Wiggins, from his Olympic victory in 2012, back to his youth when he trained at the Eastway Cycle Circuit, which used to stand in the same venue.
Wiggins has a strong sense of history and destiny and believes the importance of the venue could spur him, and the crowd, on further come Sunday.
"It is the Olympic velodrome and everybody remembers 2012 and how great that was for British sport and for Britain, that couple of weeks. And to come back here, it will be the first time [since the Olympics] I have raced on this track, probably the only time I will race on this track, and do a record of this magnitude on here. And 20 years ago, on this site, I used to race around Eastway Cycle Circuit and it is a quite nice, fitting way to come back in probably one of the last big events I do as a pro and attempt this record. It has a nice historical feel about it," said the 35-year old.
Wiggins has now competed at four Olympic Games, winning seven medals along the way in a glittering career.
He won a bronze medal in the team pursuit at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney and is hoping to come full circle and finish his career in the same event at Rio 2016.
"I think it will be nice to go out where it all started, in Sydney, for me, in the same event and to go out on a high. That would be nice," said Wiggins.
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