World Hour Record attempt

Manchester, England, September 12, 2001

Live coverage

Information about the attempt

World Hour Record: A brief history

In 1893, the first officially recorded distance of 35.325 km was established in Paris by Frenchman, Henri Desgrange, the founder of the Tour de France. Since the early 1980's many technological developments in bicycle frame and wheel design have evolved for hour record attempts. Last year the Technical Commission of the UCI revised the equipment regulations covering the hour record for cycling, and have decided to revert to a "standard" bicycle and wheels for such record attempts.

Equipment rules now in place, have caused the distance of 56.375 km covered by the British cyclist, Chris Boardman in 1996 to be changed to the "Best Hour Performance" and the UCI hour record has reverted to 1972 mark of Eddy Merckx (Belgium) at 49.431 km.

Boardman made a record attempt on a machine that meets the UCI's approval in late October last year during the World Track Cycling championships in Manchester, England. This was Boardman's farewell to International cycling and he recaptured the coveted title of "Hour Record Holder" in his final event.

Women's Record

Tamara Novikova (Russia) was the first to hold the women's hour distance at 38.473 km set on July, 7,1955. The current mark is held by Jeannie Longo-Ciprelli (France) at 48.159 km, and was set at altitude in Mexico on October 26, 1996. It will, like Boardman's also be voided, because of the equipment used.

The UCI are currently deciding the legitimacy of equipment used in all of the preceding women's attempts. The most likely distance to be approved will be that of Cornelia Van Oosten-Hage (Holland), 43.082 km on September 16, 1978 or the 41.087 km covered by the Russian cyclist, Olga Sidorenko on October 20, 1982. Both these marks are believed to have been set before the advent of the hi-tech bicycles and disc wheels.

The original record is 43.08292 km, set by Cornelia Van Oosten-Hage on September 16, 1978. This was bettered by Anna Wilson (Millward) on her "standard" track bike in October last year. Anna used a steel pan-brown Perkins (Columbus frame) on a 92 inch gear, and standard unbladed spoked wheels (box section rims). The tyres were Continentals.

Previous live coverage of Anna Millward's October, 2000 attempt

Picture: Anna Wilson warms up on her road bike (photo: Tom Balks)
Picture: In the starting gate (photo: John Doggett-Williams)
Video: Out of the gate (344 KB)

Millward finished the hour fractionally after the finish line of lap 174, but the exact distance was calculated on the basis of her subsquent lap: 43.501 kilometres. At the time, spoke with the UCI commissaire, Karen O'Callaghan after the attempt to discuss the technical specifications of the bike in more detail. The frame has to be triangular, made of steel, with tubes between 2.5 and 8 cm thickness. The wheels have to be identically sized, with no fewer than 18 (unbladed) spokes and the rim no deeper than 13mm.

Millward's record was bettered by Frenchwoman Jeannie Longo, who covered 45.094 km on December 7, 2000 at altitude in Mexico City.

Click for larger image

About Leontien's attempt

Leontien Zijlaard-van Moorsel has chosen the Manchester Velodrome for her attempt on the World Hour Record. The current Olympic Women's 3000m Individual Pursuit Champion and World Record holder will make her assault on Jeannie Longo-Ciprelli's distance of 45.094 kilometres on September 12 at 2:00pm. Manchester was chosen by the Dutch cyclist due to the lack of similar facilities in her native Holland and because of Manchester's reputation as one of the world's fastest tracks. At present, Manchester has held five successful world record attempts, a feat shared by only one other track in Mexico. All spectators are welcome and there will be no charge for admittance.

Last month, Zijlaard-Van Moorsel performed a couple of tests on the track in Manchester as preparation for her attempt on the World Hour Record. The Dutch triple Olympic gold medalist rode for 15 minutes behind the derny to get the feel for the track.

"Now that I have discovered this velodrome, I have some idea of what speed I can reach on September 12," she said on August 21. "I would like to approach 46 kilometres in the hour but I am afraid of aiming too high." In the first test, Leontien learned that she would not use the 53x16.

"The track is faster than I expected. So I needed too many pedal revolutions to get enough speed. That means I have enough power in my legs. Now we will look for 53x15 or even 54x15. Whatever will be the ideal for me. Before Thursday night we have to know, then we fly back to Holland."

The target for Leontien is '19.8'; that's the lap time she wants to keep during the one hour attempt. Husband/manager Michael Zijlaard said "But if she goes over 20.5, 20.6 and closer to 21, then she will stop." Van Moorsel trained once again on the track and then returned home to the Netherlands and started in the women's Ronde van Nederland on September 2, where she rode for a few days (mainly on the front), won a couple of stages and then returned to track work.

An interview with Leontien Zijlaard-van Moorsel