Bradley Wiggins’s quest to break the UCI Hour Record on Sunday is noticeably different to the seven other male riders who have attempted the feat since the governing body modified the rules last year.
The main question before Jens Voigt, Matthias Brandle, Jack Bobridge, Rohan Dennis, Thomas Dekker, Gustav Erik Larsson and Alex Dowsett made their attempts was ‘will they break it?’
With Wiggins, it’s ‘how far will he break it by?’ But if the 35-year-old is feeling any pressure, he’s been hiding it well.
“I really enjoy doing this type of thing, how quantifiable it is. I find that mentally easy,” he said on Tuesday’s press conference inside the Lee Valley Velodrome’s track centre.
“If I could have had a career doing Hour Records, I would have done, because it gives you what you want. There’s no worrying about your team-mate attacking or something else…it’s the purest form of cycling.”
Wiggins has said he is targeting a ride in excess of 55 kilometres – something that an unhelpfully high air pressure forecast of 1030mb may hinder – and admitted that Tony Rominger’s record ride of 55.291km from November 1994 as a benchmark in training.
So confident are both he and his management company, XIX, that Sunday’s post-race schedule has been formed solely with one outcome in mind: a new record. Failure, it appears, isn’t an option.
Should a new record be set, Wiggins would move into what he called “a special club”, that comprising Tour de France winners and Hour Record breakers.
“That’s partly why I’m doing it – to put my name up there along with those people,” he explained.
“Having won the Tour as well, putting my name on the Hour Record alongside other Tour would put me into a bracket.”
Only five riders are currently members, and Wiggins’s critics will argue that all the others in that set – Lucien Petit-Breton, Fausto Coppi, Jacques Anquetil, Eddy Merckx and Miguel Indurain – all won the Tour at least twice.
Furthermore, the criticism Wiggins’s Tour win receives from some centres around the route and his opposition; namely he got lucky in both aspects.
Given there’s no way of validating his Tour victory, it’s little surprise he would want others to attempt the Hour should he set the new record on Sunday.
“It would add more kudos to the record if more people try it,” he said. “I hope someone goes for the record again – even if they fail. It’s what records are about.
“I think there’s been a bit of rush [from other riders] to get in and do it before I do.”
As he approaches his final 12 months as a professional, Wiggins says he has three big objectives left in his cycling career: the Hour Record, next year’s World Track Championships – also in London – and the Rio Olympics.
That could become four, if Sunday’s attempt goes disastrously wrong.
“If I felt I was robbed, or if I had got ill, I might reconsider it a week later,” he added. “I was watching Moser’s one the other day; they were looking at the barometer, and they said he’d go in 10 minutes.
“The timing gear costs £20,000 now, so it’s a bit hit and miss when you do it, selecting a date in advance. In some ways it’s harder now.”
Nonetheless, with bookmakers offering odds of as little as 1/7 for him to break it, it’s likely that the question everybody’s been asking prior to his record will prove to be right.
“Had I not have won the Tour, perhaps this would be the defining thing of my career,” Wiggins added. “Perhaps it will cap off everything.”