Dan Bigham has confirmed he will make an Hour Record attempt in just over a week’s time, revealing that he has already ridden 54.7km in training.
The British rider is not eligible for the official UCI Hour Record of 55.089km currently held by Victor Campenaerts, given he’s not part of the governing body’s drug-testing programme, but he still hopes to set a new British record.
The benchmark currently stands at 54.526km, set by Bradley Wiggins when he broke the world record back in 2015.
“I wouldn’t go for it if I didn’t think it was possible,” Bigham said after taking an eye-catching 16th in the elite World Championships time trial - his first UCI-classified time trial of his career.
“The test run [of 54.7km] was good because there was zero pressure, I could just turn up and ride, and did a big negative split. It’s a different ball game when you pick a date and time and have to go for it. I’m confident but it won’t be easy.”
Bigham will make the attempt at the Velodrome Suisse in Grenchen, Switzerland, at an altitude of 450 metres. It’s likely to come in early October, the day after Joss Lowden makes her attempt on the 48.008km world record held by Victoria Bussi.
"[To be eligible for the full UCI Hour Record] I’d need to be on the UCI’s registered testing pool, which is £8000 pounds a year. Then there are all the other organisational costs, so you’re talking in the region of £25,000," Bigham explained.
“Joss has gone through that and had full support from Drops Le Col, which is nothing short of epic. For me, my team do not have £25k floating around - that’s a good chunk of their annual budget. I’m basically having to fund it off my own back. That’s not a bad thing. There’s less pressure and stress when it’s coming out of my pocket than someone else’s. But hopefully, it’s a stepping stone. If I can get close or break it, maybe people will invest in it and I can stand here in 12 months’ time saying I’m about to have a go at Campenaerts’ record."
Bigham’s form ahead of the attempt appears to be in a good place, judging by his performance at Worlds.
The 29-year-old Briton has raced sparingly on the road, and only at domestic level in the UK but he didn’t look out of place among the world’s best in Flanders, setting the tone with an impressive opening couple of splits among the early starters. He tailed off in the final kilometres but still finished a creditable 16th.
“In my head I wanted to get top-10 and thought that was achievable,” he said. “But I don’t think that’s bad for my first Worlds. Hopefully I can keep progressing as an athlete. It’s my first ever UCI time trial, so there’s still lots to learn."
The event also saw Bigham zip up a Great Britain jersey again - a big moment given the strained relationship between rider and federation.
Bigham, who spearheaded the successful Huub-Wattbike team in major track events but found opportunities limited for the national squad, made the decision to work as an aerodynamics consultant for their rivals at the Danish federation.
As the Danes powered to the team pursuit final, his role garnered national attention and he was even branded as something of a traitor, although he was keen to play down any sense of lingering controversy.
“I’m always happy to wear my heart on my sleeve and tell you how it is, and I’ll be completely honest, I’ve disagreed with things before, but I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing," he said.
"I’d encourage all athletes no matter what spot or standing to stand up for themselves if you don’t believe something is right. People do listen. British Cycling aren’t the big evil corporation that sometimes they’re made out to be; they’re genuinely there to support British Cycling and they don’t all know the answers, and they’re willing to learn.”
While the track set-up has its own politics, Bigham’s return to the fold came on the road and was largely influenced by the national selector Matt Brammeier.
Bigham rides for Ribble-Weldtite at Continental level, and combines his track pursuits with consulting work not just for Denmark but also the Jumbo-Visma and Canyon-SRAM WorldTour teams.
As such, he has had relatively little opportunity to showcase his time trialling credentials at international level, but Brammeier believed in him to the extent that he only selected Alex Dowsett - a WorldTour rider and former UCI Hour Record holder - for the Team Relay.
“On the road side I’ve been well received,” Bigham said.
“Matt Brammeier has been top-notch. I met him about 12 months ago and had a good chat about what it was going to take for me to ride Euros, Worlds, Commonwealth Games, possibly even the Olympics.
“What does that look like from an execution perspective? What do I need power-wise, aerodynamics-wise, results-wise? Who have I got to race against, who have I got to beat, what power files does he want to see, when, how… all that stuff. Matt has been great. He’s gone out of his way to let me try and answer those questions for him.
“He’s been really accepting that basically, I’ve been racing domestic time trials on courses that either he knows, or athletes that he has data on have competed on. For example, I did a 25 in Shropshire and knocked three-and-a-half minutes off Steve Cummings’ course record from 2019. If you look at the numbers, my power is up there and my CDA is one of the lowest as well, and you’re like it’s a no-brainer.”
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Deputy Editor - Europe. Patrick joined Cyclingnews after a work experience stint in 2015 and hasn't left. Prior to that, he studied French and Spanish at university and went on to train as a journalist. Rides his bike to work but more comfortable on a football pitch.
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