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Obree: Wiggins' UCI Hour Record attempt will come down to mental strength

Former UCI World Hour Record holder Graeme Obree believes that Bradley Wiggins will set a new record of between 54.5 and 55 kilometres at the London Olympic velodrome on Sunday.

Obree set a then world record distance of 51.596km in 1993 before pushing the distance out to 52.713km a year later. The Scot, who has become a highly respected individual in the field of bicycle development, watched on as Alex Dowsett moved the record out to 52.937km last month - the latest in a line of attempts that have taken place since the UCI relaxed the rules on bike position.

All eyes will be on Wiggins this weekend, though, with the former Tour de France winner returning to his track background for the first time since leaving Team Sky in April. In a recent interview with Sky Sports, Wiggins said that he was aiming for a distance of around 55.250km.

"I think that he can do between 54.5 and 55 kilometres and I think he's absolutely on track for the record," Obree told Cyclingnews.

"He might do more than 55. You have to remember that this will form part of the resumé for his entire career, in terms of major wins and achievements, so if I was him I'd want to bust a gut on this and bring it to the edge of physical survival."

Dowsett's record beat an earlier distance set by Australian Rohan Dennis and the British rider has left the door open for another challenge. Obree believes that Dowsett can be a genuine threat to Wiggins, should a new record be set this weekend.

"Bradley is in a very unfortunate position in that he's not pressured by it in terms of margin of his capability. If you also look at Alex Dowsett he's not laid down his best performance yet and he has maybe another kilometre or a kilometre and a half in him. So you've got to think that Bradley has to be doing between 54.5 and 55 kilometres just to keep the record safe.

"I think Alex is a genuine threat and he's not ridden anywhere near his true potential and if you've got an actual target to go for then that helps. He was riding defensively when he broke the record of Dennis and had more in the tank at the end. An extra two kilometres is a big ask but it's not impossible."

Boardman's mark

During his Sky Sports interview Wiggins would not rule out aiming for Chris Boardman's 'Superman' record of 56.375km that was set in the mid-1990s. Obree was cautious on Wiggins reaching that distance but added that a number of variables could come into play, such as weather and air pressure.

"I think that's too far," he said. "That's my personal feeling at this moment but I could be wrong. Actually the way the weather has been he may have the rotten luck of a high pressure coming in but at the moment it's ideal conditions. Chris was lucky in that he had low pressure when he did his."

Mental strength

For Obree, though, Wiggins' UCI Hour Record bid hinges on mental fortitude and strength as much as the rider's physical attributes. It's about how far Wiggins is willing to push himself during the 60-minute onslaught.

"The thing that's going to make the biggest difference is how his conscience and subconscience work. Basically how far can he build the pressure without busting the boiler? How much pressure does he want to put on himself during the ride? That's a mental effort," he told Cyclingnews.

"He will have done his preparation and he'll have the best equipment, so what he brings to the start line is what it is. On the day what comes out of the attempt is down to his mind and his spirit."

Obree will not be attending Wiggins' attempt this Sunday but the Scot is still deeply involved in the sport. He is currently writing another book and has a feature film about him - 'Battle Mountain - Graeme Obree's Story'- coming out later this month.

"I've been trying to write a book for the last two years but I've been struggling to put the words together. It takes a block of time but I'm also doing some public speaking and 'The Obree Way' is out already. I want to work on this other book and I've also been busy trying to break the land speed record in America. There’s also a feature film about me coming out in June. Guys followed me around for two and a half years and it launched at the Edinburgh Film Festival."

For more details on Obree's film, click here.

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Daniel Benson
Daniel Benson

Daniel Benson was the Editor in Chief at between 2008 and 2022. Based in the UK, he joined the Cyclingnews team in 2008 as the site's first UK-based Managing Editor. In that time, he reported on over a dozen editions of the Tour de France, several World Championships, the Tour Down Under, Spring Classics, and the London 2012 Olympic Games. With the help of the excellent editorial team, he ran the coverage on Cyclingnews and has interviewed leading figures in the sport including UCI Presidents and Tour de France winners.