'I only need seven extra watts': Dan Bigham to attempt to beat World Hour Record in 2022

The engineer is debating whether to ride his event at altitude or sea-level

Dan Bigham
(Image credit: James Huntly)

Dan Bigham, the British Hour Record holder, is preparing to beat the beat the world distance within the next year.

The 30-year-old set a distance of 54.723km in Grenchen, Switzerland, in October, surpassing Bradley Wiggins’ 2015 mark by 197m.

Due to being a Continental road rider for Ribble-Weldtite and thus not automatically being on the UCI’s athlete testing pool, however, Bigham’s record could not be recognised by cycling’s governing body as a pan-national attempt.

The Briton has since accrued more sponsors off the back of his ride and is now set to pay to be registered on the anti-doping system which will allow him to attempt to better the current outright Hour Record which Victor Campenaerts set in 2019 at 55.089km.

“I’ve just got to pay the money and the plan is to go for the world record,” Bigham, whose partner Joss Lowden recently reset the women’s Hour Record, confirmed to Cycling Weekly.

“I’m not naïve enough to think that I’m better than Filippo Ganna, so whenever he says he’s going for it, that’s my deadline for my own attempt.”

Although it wouldn’t have officially counted had he beaten Campenaerts’ distance, Bigham - who believes since the pandemic he has made huge strides physiologically - only fell 366m short of the Belgian.

That gives the aerodynamicist and engineer confidence that he can become the new record holder, before Ineos Grenadiers’ Ganna rides his unconfirmed but highly expected attempt.

“In power terms, I only need seven extra watts,” said the fastidious and methodical Bigham who prepared intensely for his first ride with rigorous and repeated testing of equipment.

“I can put seven watts more in, or save seven watts with better drag, improved aerodynamics and efficiency. Or I could do three-and-a-half watts each.

“How I split those seven watts doesn’t matter. I have an idea where I can make those gains, but it’s not easy.

“I have a few things that I couldn’t access or couldn’t do in the last time frame. A bit more training, six to nine months of progression, a few little tweaks here and there, and I’ll get closer to it.”

Bigham - who was inspired to ride on the track for the first time after attending Wiggins’ Hour -  set his original record at Grenchen velodrome which sits at an altitude of around 450m, therefore being classed as a sea-level venue.

Fellow Briton Alex Dowsett later failed at 1,887m altitude in Aguascaliente in Mexico to beat both Bigham and Campenaerts marks.

The choice of location for his next record is a matter of debate within the Bigham camp. “I’m really on the fence if I do it on the same track or at altitude,” he added.

“I can’t escape the fact that altitude is quicker - it’s a kilometre or a kilometre-and-a-half quicker if ridden well, and all the preparation is right. I only need 350m so a kilometre is a massive gain. Altitude is wise if I want to break the record.

“But then the nerd inside me says I should do it at sea-level - it would be a cool project. 

“A lot of people have said to me that it’s not a cop-out riding at altitude. It’s still a genuinely hard challenge, and it’s not easy to train. It’s different to training at sea-level.

“But it would be a nice challenge of breaking it at sea level. It would just take a lot of work physiologically and on the optimisation side of things.”

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