Report – Alex Dowsett’s Better than #PerfectHour


After five hard months dedicated and committed training, Alex Dowsett (Movistar Team) smashed cycling’s Hour Record

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Report – Alex Dowsett’s Better than #PerfectHour

from – Gordon Wiseman

After 5 hard months dedicated and committed training, Alex Dowsett (Movistar Team) brought all his preparation together for 60 life changing minutes at Manchester’s National Cycling Centre on Saturday lunchtime and smashed cycling’s Hour Record, setting a new target distance of 52.937kms.

20150502 - the man, the machine, the distance


At nearly two full laps further than the distance covered in February by Aussie Rohan Dennis, Dowsett is now the fourth holder of cycling’s Blue Riband record since the UCI revised the rules last year.

And yet the Essex born rider feels there’s still more left in the tank and didn’t dismiss the idea of trying to improve on his own record – or that of anyone else that might be set in the coming months – before the year is out!

“I wish everyone hadn’t said how hard it was going to be” he laughed just minutes after getting off his bike. “I definitely think there’s more in there. The first 30 minutes were easier than I expected them to be and Steve’ – Collins of Athlon Sport and long-time friend of Alex – ‘had to keep slowing me down”.

20150502 - in full flight


Dowsett entered the track area at 12.55pm, just 5 minutes before he started his ride and nervously waved to a few of the team members waiting for him as he strapped on his racing shoes. Making a couple of exploratory laps of the track to the pulsing sound of Pendulum’s ‘Propane Nightmares’ he later said; “I couldn’t believe the noise. That only built up the pressure on me, which was horrendous already, as I knew all those people had come to watch me”.

During training Alex had always said that pacing, pacing, pacing would be the key having learned from the unsuccessful attempt of Jack Bobridge and that was evident in the early laps as his times suggested he was slipping behind the schedule of Dennis, at one point Alex was around 9 seconds off record pace.

But throughout those early laps Dowsett’s back room team were calmly telling him by hand signals that he was always on the schedule they’d devised before the attempt as he rigorously kept glued to the sprinter’s black line circling the 250m track.

20150502 - holding his bike aloft in celebration


Moving into the second half of the ride – when all those who’d previously attempted the record had said the physical strains would really start to kick in – Dowsett started to increase his speed and the 9 second deficit started to slowly come down.

As he moved towards the point when he was getting into setting a record breaking distance, the already noisy crowd started cheering louder and louder and just before the 45km mark – lap 179 to be precise – for the first time Dowsett moved ahead of the 52.491km schedule he needed to beat. And the noise levels went through the roof!

Within another 5kms Alex had moved the record a whole lap ahead of the now previous record but still he kept pressing hard on the pedals to move the mark even further forward.

“At that point the team said I should really open the taps and I was giving it everything” Alex explained, as could be seen by the still decreasing lap times.


At 59mins 30secs the electronic score board stopped showing how far Alex was moving ahead but as the clock kept counting down the final seconds a smile could be seen developing on his face as Dowsett knew the record was his. And as he crossed the line for the final timed lap he punched the air, knowing all the thousands of laps he’d covered in training had been worthwhile.

When the official distance of 52.937kms flashed up there were smiles, high fives and tears all round on the faces of the team who’d been working so tirelessly with and for Dowsett as Alex, now touring round the track, waved his thanks to the huge crowd who filled the velodrome.

Getting off his bike, looking overwhelmed at what he’d achieved, Alex lifted it into the air and then stated hugging his girlfriend and sister, leaving the biggest hug for his dad and team boss Eusebio Unzue.

Before the Hour Unzue was more than happy with how Alex’ preparation had been going. “I’m not nervous for Alex, I’m feeling confident. I’ve been here with him since Wednesday so I know he’s in the right place. I’m calm and confident because I’ve seen that Alex is calm and confident”.

And after an Unzue managed rider had broken the Hour Record for the second time – Dowsett following the footsteps of Miguel Indurain who, when riding for Banesto, had broken the record in 1994 – the legend team manager simply said “Magnifico!”

After catching his breath Alex thanked the crowd for their support; “In the last 5 minutes they were amazing. I know that in the early laps, by setting an even pace, it might have looked like things may not have been going well but I really don’t think I had any bad patches”.

And after being told that he’d missed the 53km mark by less than 70m, Dowsett confirmed that if he’d been less cautious in the early laps then perhaps he might have taken the record even further forward.

“Yes, I think there’s more in there. Every time I’ve got on the bike, as we’ve added bits and pieces, I’ve gone faster and faster. But rides like this and time trails are what I do and can do well. It’s moments like this that I race for”.

After he’d changed and performed the mandatory drugs test Alex met a group of his supporters who’d been his motivation through all his months of training and who’d kept him pushing hard in the closing minutes of his ride, the families and children of the haemophilia community for whom he’s such an inspiration.

Launching the 2015 Miles for Haemophilia; Your Personal Best campaign – Alex explained why he’d been a little late for the launch; “Sorry, I couldn’t wee for the drugs test!”

“It’s because I have haemophilia that I’m here as a cyclist because my parent’s had always pushed the physical exercise side to help my bones and when I tried cycling, because I was first from the swimming, I was fast.

“In the weeks leading up today I’ve been receiving Twitter messages from families like mine, who are supporting a child with haemophilia so I know what I’ve done today can be a motivation and inspiration to others.

“Sometimes being a racing cyclist can be quite a selfish existence. But knowing I can have such a bigger effect on these families has pushed me to a 6 rather than 5 hour training rides. Yes, today was about breaking the record but also my making an attempt has put such an important message out there”.

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