The 29-year-old made his attempt at the Velodrome Suisse in Grenchen, but was only eligible for the British record, rather than the official UCI world record, given he is not part of the governing body's drug testing pool.
Bigham went past Wiggins' benchmark of 54.526km, set by the former Tour de France winner when he broke the world record in London in 2015. Not that it would have counted, but he fell short of the the current world record of 55.089km, set by Victor Campenaerts in 2019.
Bigham is a decorated rider on the track and finished 16th in the recent elite men's time trial at the UCI Road World Championships, but is not a full-time professional rider. He balances racing with work as an aerodynamics consultant for various teams, including Jumbo-Visma, Canyon-SRAM, and Denmark's track cycling team.
Bigham made the attempt aboard an Argon-18 time trial bike equipped with custom components from his own Wattshop equipment company and HUUB design, which sponsored the ground-breaking track team that he was a part of, HUUB-Wattbike.
Bigham started off at a modest pace, consistently posting laps in excess of 16.5 seconds, which saw him in the red compared to Wiggins. However, that was apparently all part of the plan, and he notably lifted the tempo towards the half-way mark, where he was just shy of 27km. He then proceeded to take his lap times constantly down to the 16.1-second mark, even dipping into the high 15 seconds at one point in the last quarter.
As he held that pace, it became clear the record would tumble, and he ended up pushing it on by just under 200 metres.
“I’m sure I had a few people scared early on with the pacing, but that was the plan. It was quite a scary way to ride it because you know you’ve got to pick it up but I paced it really really well,” Bigham said.
“I felt I was on a good one. I basically just kept nipping it up and up. After 20 minutes, I was like ‘I can nip at this a bit more’. My target was to be 20 seconds back at half-way, and I was only 18 down. Then I was sitting at 16.1, 16.0 for the last 25 minutes and was chipping away at the record. I thought it was going to bite me but even with 10 minutes to go, then five minutes to go, It was still there. Then in the last few minutes it really started to hurt.”
Bigham takes an unapologetically scientific approach to cycling and based his attempt on 18 months of equipment testing. He said he could never hope to match Wiggins’ power output but could go further if he could carve out a significant aerodynamic advantage.
“I don’t have 400 watts to play with, so we knew if we were going to do it, we’d need to do it smart,” he said.
“I broke the record by 200 metres, so I broke it by four watts. How many people give you stick, saying four watts is nothing. Four watts is everything to me. Four watts is what got me that today.”
Bigham has indicated that he could make an attempt on the official UCI Hour Record next year.
He would need to be part of the UCI’s Registered Testing Pool, which is automatic for riders on WorldTour and ProTeams but can also be obtained by non-professional riders, to the tune of around £8,000.
Former record holder Alex Dowsett recently told Cyclingnews it was “desperately unfair” that financial constraints stopped Bigham from making a recognised attempt.
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