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by Shane Stokes
December 19, 2014
Saying that his motivation is to inspire others who suffer from the same blood clotting disease that he does, Alex Dowsett and his Movistar team today announced the rider’s plan to break the UCI hour record on February 27.
The time trial specialist will make his bid at the Revolution track meet at the Lee Valley VeloPark velodrome, which was the venue for the 2012 Olympic Games.
Dowsett won the Commonwealth Games time trial this season and said that while those games, the Olympics and the Tour de France resonate with the general public, that a very big impression was made on him in recent weeks when he travelled around Europe with the Miles for Haemophilia campaign.
He said that trip, and the reaction he got, proved to be the big driving force towards his record attempt.
“The campaign was simple: just to raise awareness and promote a healthy and active lifestyle within the Haemophilia community,” he said.
“What I realised quite quickly tough was the impact my story was having. As a young haemophiliac things were tough, even more so for my family than I. 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.”
However he was determined to follow and different path and having done so, he has now seen that others can follow his example.
“On these trips I saw my story was spreading hope: their boy or girl could in fact lead an ordinary life. So I thought: what more can I do to bring a positive outlook on the future to them, alongside my own personal career ambitions?”
He said that because the hour record is such a simple concept, everyone can understand it. As a result the 26 year old decided that it should be his next target.
He said that he has had a long-running fascination with it.
“The Hour is something I’ve always been interested in; the simplicity of it, mostly: no tactics, no hiding, just you and the bike,” he said.
“Now I’ve got a new sense of drive as I know that the more success I can achieve, the more hope it will give everyone in the whole rare disease community. We spend our childhoods being told what we can’t do, so I’m going for the record for anyone that gets told what they can’t do something and goes out to prove themselves otherwise. I’m training a hell of a lot harder because of it.”
The hour record has had a resurgence due to the UCI’s decision to change the rules about the permitted equipment and to allow more modern – and thus faster – bikes than in recent years.
The first to break the record this year was Jens Voigt, who covered 51.115 kilometres on September 19 in Grenchen, Switzerland. Next up was the Austrian rider Matthias Brandle, who improved the mark to 51.850 kilometres on October 30 in the UCI’s World Cycling Centre in Aigle.
Since then both Jack Bobridge and Rohan Dennis have announced that they will aim for the record. Bobridge’s bid will take place in Melbourne’s DISC velodrome on January 31, while Dennis will make his attempt in Grenchen, Switzerland on February 8.
Dowsett’s attempt will come 19 days after the latter bid. This means that he isn’t yet aware what distance he will have to travel to break the record, but he will continue working hard in the meantime.
The Movistar team’s general manager Eusebio Unzue was present at Friday’s launch in London and said that the thoughts of being part of the bid were very emotional for him due to his participation in another team rider’s bid two decades ago.
The rider concerned was Miguel Indurain, who was part of the Banesto team at the time.
“Back then, it wasn’t really usual to pursue such record, of all goals you could go after, and there weren’t many riders who dared to take such challenge either,” said Unzue. “After some attempts prior to ours, Miguel relied on his chances to beat the mark, we got our hands into it and, after many weeks of hard work, the day came – and it was really emotional: the velodrome in Bordeaux, full of people, the TV cameras showing it live… it was really different from what we were used to.
“I always remember that day as one of the hardest for Miguel: I found him completely broken, out of energy after such a hard attempt in conditions he wasn’t accustomed to at all.”
UCI President Brian Cookson has seen the record broken twice in recent months and said that he was pleased with the confirmation of the bid.
“I am delighted that an experienced time trialist such as Alex Dowsett is attacking the UCI Hour Record just months after Matthias Brändle’s tremendous performance on the UCI World Cycling Centre velodrome, in Switzerland. After Brändle’s new record, I said that I was convinced that many other riders would try to add their names to the prestigious list of legendary UCI Hour Record holders, and Alex did not wait long to announce his attempt.
“Dowsett’s attempt gives credit to the amendment of the regulations we introduced several months ago. The recent changes have sparked an exciting series of challenges, which is exactly what we hoped would happen when we decided to authorise the use of track bikes with modern designs and technology. The UCI Hour Record has been revived and is capturing the imaginations of riders and fans alike.”
A total of 6,000 places are available for those who want to be present at the bid, and can be purchased here.