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Alex Dowsett will attempt to break the world hour record, again. The attempt will take place December 12 at the Manchester Velodrome.
Dowsett is no stranger to the hour record, having previously set the record in 2015 before being surpassed by Bradley Wiggins later that same year and, ultimately, Victor Campenaerts in 2019. Having held the record for just 36 days, Dowsett had initially planned to attempt the record again in early 2017, but injury and team commitments put an end to those plans. It seems now that his long-awaited second attempt is only a matter of weeks away.
Dowsett currently rides for the UCI WorldTour Israel Start-Up Nation team with whom he won stage 8 of the Giro D’Italia last month. He recently announced that he has a new two-year deal but has not specified if he will stay at ISN or move on for pastures new. Either way, he plans to see out the remainder of the year, with more good news following the announcement that he and his partner are expecting their first child.
Dowsett’s attempt will take place at the Manchester velodrome, the same track where he set the hour record previously in May 2015 with a 52.937km ride. Assuming that Dowsett is confined to selecting a track in England, given the current coronavirus pandemic, it is thought that Manchester is the fastest option available to him.
At ~35-40m above sea level, he will not have the benefit of altitude that Campenaerts had in Aguascalientes, Mexico. Dowsett will be hoping for more favourable atmospheric conditions than Wiggins had at the Lee Valley Velopark Velodrome, London in 2015. Hopefully, he will not have to pick up the heating bill given how crucial temperature is and the fact outside temperatures will most likely be in the single figures Celcius outdoors.
In the years since his record-breaking ride in May 2015, Dowsett has stated he was frustrated having finished that attempt with more gas left in the tank. He has always seemed confident he could better his distance, suggesting that the focus back then was to break the existing record rather than risk everything in attempting his own absolute best.
Given the current record set by Victor Campenaerts in April 2019 is 55.089 km, a full 2.1 km further than Dowsett previously rode, Alex knows the magnitude of the challenge that lays ahead. In a press release today Alex said “In terms of difficulty, this time around I know the bar has been set extremely high by Victor (Campanaerts). It’s going to be a very big ask but I think I’m capable.”
Alex previously stated in 2017 that he would need three months notice to make a real attempt at the record. It is unclear how long he has been planning this attempt but, since completing the Giro a little over two weeks ago, Dowsett has been at home in England quietly setting about his preparation. Although we have no information yet as to the exact equipment Dowsett will use, we have been told that wind tunnel testing has been part of the build-up. From footage shared as part of the announcement today, we can see Dowsett testing several setup variations, including one snippet of the video where he appears to be semi-naked. However, all of this testing is on his Slick TT bike from Factor. No shots have yet appeared of the track-specific machine he will ride on December 12.
Alex Dowsett is one of very few, if not the only, international athlete to suffer from haemophilia and he hopes to use his hour record attempt to highlight the condition and break down barriers young people suffering from the condition face. In 2016, Dowsett set up the charity, Little Bleeders, to introduce safe sport and activity to young haemophiliacs with a mission to support and empower families to make good choices that promote physical activity and overall well-being. Dowsett said about the hour record attempt – “This is my small way of trying to bring awareness to the haemophilia community, as well as hopefully inspiring a generation of haemophiliacs to reconsider their limitations and what’s possible with what was once a very debilitating condition.”