The team announced today that Zirbel, 37, will travel to Aguascalientes, Mexico, to tackle Norm Alvis' two-decades-old record on Friday, September 16. Alvis rode 51.505 in 1997. The current UCI Hour Record set by Bradley Wiggins in June of 2015 is 54.526.
"I think the Hour Record really suits my abilities and I think an American record would be a great way to cap off my cycling career," Zirbel said in a statement released by the team. "The American record is 51.505 km, so going at least one meter further is the primary goal. It's hard to predict what distance I'm capable of because I've never ridden the velodrome in Aguascalientes, but based on my training of late, I'm optimistic that it's going to go well."
Zirbel and the team chose the velodrome in Aguascalientes due to its high elevation (1,888 metres) and reputation as one of the fastest tracks in the world. Zirbel has been training at altitude for the past month at the Boulder Valley Velodrome with Kevin Nicol, a time trial veteran who has done several Hour Record attempts at the Masters level. Zirbel's specific training has included power work, threshold intervals and extended efforts to help him maintain his aero position for the duration of the attempt.
Although Zirbel has never competed on the track, he has been one of the top time trialists in the US throughout his 10-year professional career, taking the national title in 2013 and finishing second four times, including twice each behind Dave Zabriskie (2008, 2011) and Taylor Phinney (2014, 2016).
His road results include wins at the Tour of Gila, Tour of Missouri, Volta ao Alentejo and the North Star Grand Prix. So far this year, Zirbel has taken time trials wins at the Tour of the Gila, the North Star Grand Prix and the Cascade Cycling Calssic, and he was part of Rally's winning US National Team Time Trial Championships squad.
"Tom has had a long career and is one of the best time trialists in US history," said Rally Cycling Performance Manager Jonas Carney. "We thought it would be cool for him to make an attempt at the US hour record before he retires. In the last couple years the hour record has come back into the spotlight and it seems like good timing. Tom's fired up for this effort and we've done everything we can to make sure he has what he needs to break the record."
Zirbel will make the record attempt on a modified version of his Diamondback Serios time trial machine outfitted with special HED disc wheels.
"None of this would be feasible without the support of Rally Cycling and our sponsors," Zirbel said. "To do this right, it takes an enormous amount of planning and resources and they have been 100 percent committed to supporting me. My motivation is to end my career on a high note and pay back the team for all their hard work and support."