No regrets for Alex Dowsett amid 'overwhelming' response to Hour Record attempt

Alex Dowsett in Aguascalientes, Mexico during his UCI Hour Record attempt
Alex Dowsett in Aguascalientes, Mexico during his UCI Hour Record attempt (Image credit: Jesus Gonzalez)

Alex Dowsett has had some time to digest Wednesday's UCI Hour Record attempt and, looking back with a cool head, he still has no regrets about his ride.

"I’m confident that was everything I had, and that was the important thing," the British rider said in the latest video diary on his popular YouTube channel. 

"I’m happy with that - 54.555 kilometres is the third biggest distance in the modern history of the Hour Record, so that’s nothing to be ashamed of, I don’t think."

Dowsett’s distance in the Aguascalientes velodrome in Mexico fell 534 metres - just over two laps - short of the current record set by Victor Campenaerts in the same location two and a half years ago. He surpassed Bradley Wiggins’ effort that took the record away from him back in 2015 but fell shy of the British record set recently by Dan Bigham.  

Dowsett suggested he might have been able to go a shade further had he set out more conservatively but, after feeling he didn’t do full justice to himself when he broke the record in 2015, he was keen to attack Campenaerts' benchmark head-on. 

Analysing his ride alongside his coach, Michael Hutchinson, Dowsett explained that he’d started strongly and was up on Campenaerts’ pace at the halfway mark, but that he soon started to fade and felt the record slipping away from his grasp. 

"The goal to start with was to get the first 5-10 minutes right, not getting too excited and settling on pace. After that, from 15-20 minutes I had a bit of a rough patch but settled down again, then at 30 minutes I was like ‘I can do this, I’m in control’," Dowsett explained.

"But then at 35 minutes I started to be in somewhat less control. The lap times just started slipping away. I was five seconds up and thinking ‘ok, I’ve got five seconds of a buffer, hopefully I can lose that, regroup, and go again, but try as I might, I just couldn’t get back on top of it."

In the last 20 minutes, Dowsett’s lap times drifted up towards the 17-second mark and he was unable to drag them back down to the 16.3-second mark needed throughout to break Campenaerts’ record. He never cracked, but that effort took its toll and his line became increasingly erratic, with one of the foam pads at the side of the track taking a hit at one point. 

When the clock stopped and he wheeled to a halt, he could barely walk, and had to be helped down into the track centre by his partner and his coach. 

"I’ve got some very sore legs. I’ve never quite known pain like it afterwards," Dowsett said 24 hours on. 

"I said to Michael, it hurts to sit, it hurts to stand, and it hurts to lie down. He said ‘ah that’s exactly what Chris Boardman said after one of his attempts’. So we did it right."

Dowsett was aiming for the personal accolade of holding the world record but he was also riding for a cause much greater than himself. The attempt, organised independently of his trade team, Israel Start-Up Nation, was designed to raise awareness and money for haemophilia, a rare blood disease from which Dowsett suffers. 

At the time of writing, his fundraising page linked to the record attempt has raised £45,000, which will be split between the Haemophilia Society and Dowsett’s own charity, Little Bleeders. 

"The response since has been quite overwhelming," Dowsett said. "The JustGiving page is now at over £40,000, which is far beyond anything we ever expected, it really is. That’s quite phenomenal.

"I am satisfied with the outcome," Dowsett concluded. "I’m not walking way with the World Record but I am walking away with the satisfactory feeling that I had the World Record and that I’ve also shown the Hour Record what I can do. We’re good."

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