The “Watt-Weenie” takes it: Dan Bigham is the new Hour Record holder

Bigham breaks Victor Campenaerts' previous record.

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Dan Bigham has broken the UCI World Hour Record. The British rider broke the previous record of 55.089 km set by Victor Campanaerts in 2019 with a new benchmark distance of 55.548 km.

He started conservatively, sticking to a negative split pacing plan. Bigham and his coach Jacob Tipper had a plan to fall as much as 16 seconds down on the record before attacking the final 15 minutes somewhere above 56 km/h.

The 30-year-old time trial and track specialist had previously set the British Hour Record in October 2021, breaking Bradley Wiggins’ previous best with a 54.723 km set on the same boards of the Tissot velodrome in Grenchen, Switzerland, just 24 hours after his fiancée Joss Lowden had set what was then a new women’s Hour Record. Bigham took to the same track today and has now set a new men’s world record.

With a background in engineering, Bigham has worked with Mercedes F1, Canyon-SRAM, Team KGF/ HUUB-Wattbike, plus his work with the Ineos Grenadiers, not as a rider but a performance engineer. Bigham also founded Wattshop, an online store that offers high-performance aerodynamic components and aerodynamic testing. 

Bigham is no stranger to track racing and records, having previously won national championships and world cups on the track and more recently set a new British pursuit record and the aforementioned British Hour Record. Despite having a tilt at the Hour scheduled for mid-2020 in Bolivia derailed by the Covid lockdowns, Bigham has often cited the opportunities created by lockdowns as central to his progression over the past two seasons. Pre-Covid, Bigham split his attention between team performance management duties and his own training. The global lockdowns gave Bigham time to focus on his own training, and he hasn’t looked back since. 

Bigham’s official and unofficial Hour history includes a 52.6 km on the velodrome in Derby back in early 2020, a 53.7 km in Manchester later that year, and a 54.7 km effort just over a year ago in Denmark from a rolling start. While all those distances were unofficial distances set in training, Bigham backed them up with an official 54.7 km to take the British record last year. Now Bigham has gone further again with the new World Hour record of 55.548 km.

Given his aero-weenie background and history with the event, many assumed the very fact Bigham was lining up for the Hour was an indication he had made the calculations the record was within reach. However, nothing is ever clear-cut with the Hour. As many riders can attest, the pacing is both crucial and extremely complex in the Hour. Despite being indoors, weather and atmospheric conditions on the day can make or break any attempt. Then there is the sheer physical challenge of holding an aerodynamic position while cranking out the watts for an hour without so much as a second of respite.

Unsurprisingly, though, Bigham left no stone unturned. While his bike was a closely guarded secret with the Ineos Grenadiers telling us no photos would be available, the team did tell us Bigham rode a prototype Pinarello track frame with a custom 3D-printed basebar and aero extensions, a 64 Wattshop Cratus aero crank and chainring paired to a Wattshop Cratus 14 tooth sprocket and Izumi KAI chain. Princeton Track special wheels were wrapped with Continental GP5000 TT tyres. Bigham wore a Bioracer Katana skinsuit, Bioracer Epic overshoes, a Kask Mistral helmet, and Nimbl Expect shoes. All things considered, Bigham’s CdA is rumoured to be around .15, an absolutely absurd number.

More to follow…