Tom Zirbel (Rally Cycling) broke the US Hour Record in Aguascalientes, Mexico, on Friday. The American picked up his pace in the final quarter hour, finishing with a distance of 53.037km. The new benchmark crushed the two-decade-old record set by Norm Alvis in 1997.
Zirbel, 37, travelled to the Aguascalientes velodrome, which is at an elevation of 1,888 metres and has the reputation of being one of the fastest tracks in the world.
He started with a goal of breaking Alvis' US record of 51.505km set in 1997. The current UCI Hour Record, set by Bradley Wiggins in June of 2015, is 54.526.
Zirbel rode farther than Jens Voigt, Mathias Brändle, Rohan Dennis and Alex Dowsett, all of whom set new records since the UCI revised the rules and allowed standard track pursuit aerodynamic set-ups.
In order to compete with Alvis’ benchmark, Zirbel needed to post 17.4-second lap times. He started his attempt strong and within the first 10 minutes he was on track to breaking the US record with 16.9-second lap times. He continued to hold the same lap times 20 minutes into the effort.
At the halfway point, Zirbel was pedaling at an average pace of 52.7km/h, remaining consistent with 16.9 seconds a lap. As the event progressed, he sped up and was pushing lap times as fast at 16.6 seconds for the last five minutes, bringing him close to the 53km/h mark and enough to secure the record.
Zirbel announced that he would retire from professional bike racing before this season started with Rally Cycling, but he wanted to finish his career with the US Hour Record.