Hour record

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For the hour record in athletics, see One hour run. For the hour record in non-upright bicycles, see hour record (recumbents).

The hour record is the record for the longest distance cycled in one hour on a bicycle from a stationary start. Cyclists attempt this record alone on the track without other competitors present. It is considered perhaps the most prestigious record in all of cycling. Over history, various cyclists ranging from unknown amateurs to well-known professionals have held the record, adding to its prestige and allure. There are several records, the most famous of which is for upright bicycles meeting the requirements of the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI). Hour-record attempts, for UCI bikes, are made in a velodrome.

Early hour records[edit]

The first recorded record was in 1876 when the American Frank Dodds rode 26.508 km (16.471 mi) on a penny-farthing,[1] although there are also claims[2] that the record was first set in 1873 by James Moore in Wolverhampton, riding an Ariel 49" high wheel bicycle. The first officially recognised record was set by Henri Desgrange at the Buffalo Velodrome, Paris in 1893 following the formation of the International Cycling Association.

The hour was attempted sporadically over the following 70 years, with most early attempts taking place at the Buffalo Velodrome in Paris, before the Velodromo Vigorelli in Milan became popular in 1930s and 1940's sparking attempts from leading Italian riders and former Giro d'Italia winners such as Fausto Coppi and Ercole Baldini. In 1968, Ole Ritter broke the record in Mexico City, the first attempt at altitude since Willie Hamilton in 1898.

Historical hour records[edit]

UCI hour record (1972–2014)[edit]

Merckx, Moser & new technology[edit]

In 1972 Eddy Merckx set the hour record in Mexico City at an altitude of 2,300m (7,550 ft) where he proclaimed it to have been "the hardest ride I have ever done".[4] In January 1984, Francesco Moser set a new record at 51.151 km (31.784 mi). This was the first noted use of disc wheels, which provided an aerodynamic gain.[4]

Obree vs. Boardman[edit]

In 1993 and 1994, Graeme Obree, who built his own bikes, posted two records with his hands tucked under his chest. In 1994, Moser set the veteran's record at (51.840 km)[5] in Mexico City. Moser beat his 1984 record, using bullhorn handlebars, steel airfoil tubing, disk wheels and skinsuit. It was also faster than Obree's first record in 1993. In May of the same year, the UCI outlawed the Obree "praying mantis" style. Chris Boardman took up the challenge using the now famous Lotus car company designed bike. South African company Aerodyne Technology built the frame. Boardman set UCI Absolute record of 56.375 km in 1996. In 1996, Boardman set a record using another position pioneered by Obree, his arms out in front in a "Superman" position. Both were considered controversial by the UCI, and while the records were allowed to stand, the positions were banned.[4] Subsequently, Obree and Boardman made several attempts to top the previous record.

1997 UCI rule change[edit]

With the increasing gap between modern bicycles and what was available at the time of Merckx's record, the UCI established two records in 1997:

  • UCI Hour Record: which restricted competitors to roughly the same equipment as Merckx, banning time trial helmets, disc or tri-spoke wheels, aerodynamic bars and monocoque frames.
  • Best Human Effort: also known as the UCI "Absolute" Record[4] in which modern equipment was permitted.

Best Human Effort[edit]

As a result of the 1997 rule change, records since 1972, including Boardman's 56.375 km (35.030 mi) in 1996, were downgraded to Best Human Effort. In 2000, Boardman attempted the UCI record on a traditional bike, and rode 49.441 km (30.721 mi), topping Merckx by 10 m (32.8 ft), an improvement of 0.02%. In 2005 Ondřej Sosenka improved Boardman's performance at 49.700 km (30.882 mi) using a 54×13 gear. Sosenka later failed a doping control in 2001 and then again in 2008, the latter resulting in a career-ending suspension which puts in doubt the validity of his record. All women's records from 1986 to 1996 were recategorized to Best Human Effort.

Hour record holders (men's)[edit]

Hour record holders (women's)[edit]

UCI unified hour record (2014–present)[edit]

Unified rule change (2014)[edit]

In 2014, the UCI unified the two classifications into a single classification in line with regulations for current track pursuit bikes. Records previously removed for Chris Boardman and Graeme Obree were returned, however the benchmark record would remain at 49.700 km set in 2005 by Ondrej Sosenka, even though that was not the farthest distance.[13][14] Under the new regulations riders may use any bike allowed by the UCI standards for endurance track events in place at the time of the attempt.[15] So far, seven attempts have been made for the men's record, four successfully, while one unsuccessful attempt has been made on the women's record.

Unified hour record attempts (men's)[edit]

Alex Dowsett, the current unified hour record holder

Following the change in the rules, German Jens Voigt became the first rider to attempt the hour, on 18 September 2014 at the Velodrome Suisse, Grenchen, Switzerland.[16][17] He set a new record of 51.110 km, beating the previous record set by Sosenka by 1.410 km.[4] On 30 October 2014, Matthias Brändle set a new record of 51.852 km at the World Cycling Center in Aigle, Switzerland.

Further attempts by Australians Jack Bobridge, Rohan Dennis, and Thomas Dekker came within a few weeks, between 31 January and 25 February 2015. Dennis was the only one of the three to set a new record, and in doing so broke the 52 km barrier. Dekker's attempt at the Aguascalientes Bicentenary Velodrome was the first attempt to take place at appreciable altitude. Aguascalientes is at 3,050m above sea level, while Melbourne is at only 31m, and, although in Switzerland, Grenchen and Aigle are at 451m and 415m, and not in the mountains. High altitude is thought to result in faster times, providing the rider takes the time to acclimatise to the conditions.[18] This is because the air density decreases with an increase in altitude, which reduces the aerodynamic drag.[19]

Having postponed an earlier scheduled attempt due to a broken collarbone incurred in a crash while training, British cyclist Alex Dowsett exceeded Dennis' mark, with a new record of 52.937 km, at Manchester Velodrome on 2 May 2015.[20]

Riders are required to be part of the athlete biological passport program.[21] However, of the five men to attempt the record, only one was a cyclist on a UCI World Tour team at the time: Rohan Dennis of the BMC Racing Team. Jens Voigt had recently retired from cycling, last riding with Trek Factory Racing. Matthias Brändle was with IAM Cycling, then a UCI Professional Continental team. Jack Bobridge was on Team Budget Forklifts, an Australian UCI Continental team. Thomas Dekker had been released from World Tour team Garmin-Sharp several months before. Teams are less important in hour record attempts; bike manufacturers are more important; Jens Voigt's bid was supported by Trek Bicycle Corporation, who sponsored his former team, while Rohan Dennis' attempt was sponsored by BMC Trading, who similarly sponsor his team.[22]

Future attempts are expected from Fabian Cancellara,[23] Tony Martin,[24] Taylor Phinney,[25] and Bradley Wiggins.[26]

Men's UCI hour record attempts and record holders (since the rule revision in 2014)[6][7]
Date Rider Age Velodrome Distance (km) Supported by Equipment Notes
18 September 2014 Germany Jens Voigt 43 Velodrome Suisse, Grenchen, Switzerland 51.110
(New record)
United States Trek Bicycle Corporation[27] Triathlon handlebar, Trek carbon fibre tubing frame, disc wheels,[28] chain on a 55/14 gear ratio.[29] First attempt under the new rule-set and oldest record holder at 43 years old and one day.
Sport records icon NR.svg Set new German national record.
30 October 2014 Austria Matthias Brändle 24 World Cycling Center, Aigle, Switzerland 51.852
(New record)
Switzerland IAM Cycling[30] Triathlon handlebar, SCOTT carbon fibre tubing frame, disc wheels, chain on a 55/13 gear ratio.[29] Sport records icon NR.svg Set new Austrian national record.
31 January 2015 Australia Jack Bobridge 24 Darebin International Sports Centre, Melbourne, Australia 51.300
Australia Cycling Australia[31] Triathlon handlebar, Cervelo carbon fibre tubing frame, disc wheels. Failed to set new hour record.
Sport records icon NR.svg Beat Brad McGee's previous Australian national record of 50.300 km set in 2000.[32]
8 February 2015 Australia Rohan Dennis 24 Velodrome Suisse, Grenchen, Switzerland 52.491
(New record)
United States BMC Racing Team Triathlon handlebar, BMC carbon fibre tubing frame, disc wheels, chain on a 56/14 gear ratio.[33] Sport records icon NR.svg Beat Jack Bobridge's previous Australian national record of 51.300 km set in January 2015.
25 February 2015 Netherlands Thomas Dekker 30 Aguascalientes Bicentenary Velodrome, Aguascalientes, Mexico 52.221
Netherlands Koga[34] Koga TeeTeeTrack with Mavic Comete Track wheels, Koga components, Rotor cranks with a KMC (3/32") chain on a 58/14 gear ratio.[35] First attempt at altitude (2000m). Failed to set new hour record.
Sport records icon NR.svg Set new Dutch national record.
14 March 2015 Sweden Gustav Larsson 34 Manchester Velodrome, Manchester, United Kingdom 50.016
United Kingdom Revolution Series
Denmark Cult Energy Pro Cycling[36]
Ridley carbon track bike with front and rear disc wheels, triathlon handlebars. Sport records icon NR.svg Set new Swedish national record, beating previous record of 45.335 km.[37]
2 May 2015 United Kingdom Alex Dowsett 26 Manchester Velodrome, Manchester, United Kingdom[38] 52.937
(New record)
Spain Movistar Team Canyon Speedmax WHR carbon track bike, with Campagnolo Pista disc wheels, Pista crankset with 54, 55 & 56t chainrings.[39][40] Sport records icon NR.svg Set new British national record, beating Chris Boardman's record of 49.441 km set in 2000.
7 June 2015 United Kingdom Bradley Wiggins 35 Lee Valley VeloPark, London, United Kingdom[41] Scheduled United Kingdom Team Wiggins

Unified hour record attempts (women's)[edit]

Leontien van Moorsel, the current women's hour record holder with a distance of 46.065 km set on 1 October 2003.

Last women's hour record before unified rule change was set on 1 October 2003 by Leontien van Moorsel, with a distance of 46.065 km.

In December 2014, it was announced that British Paralympian Sarah Storey would be the first woman to attempt the record following the unified rule change. She attempted the record on 28 February 2015 at Lee Valley Velo Park, London setting new British, Para-Cycling and Masters Age 35-39 records but missing out on the Elite record with a distance of 45.502km.[42] British Olympian Joanna Rowsell has also expressed interest in attempting to break the record.[43]

Since the rule change in 2014, American Molly Shaffer Van Houweling has twice set new US Records. The first was December 15, 2014 in Carson, California with a distance of 44.173km. The second was February 25, 2015 in Aguascalientes, Mexico, with a distance of 45.637 km. This mark was a new Pan-American record as well as a World Masters Age 40-44 and a US Elite record. Van Houweling is currently not eligible to set a UCI elite mark as she is not part of the athlete biological passport program.[44]

Women's UCI hour record attempts and record holders (since the rule revision in 2014)
Date Rider Age Velodrome Distance (km) Supported by Equipment Notes
28 February 2015 United Kingdom Sarah Storey 37 Lee Valley VeloPark, London, United Kingdom 45.502
United Kingdom Revolution Series Ridley Arena Carbon track bike with triathlon bars, Pro rear disc wheel, front disk wheel, Shimano Dura-Ace groupset.[45] Sport records icon NR.svg Beat Yvonne McGregor's previous national record of 43.689 set in April 2002. New C5 Para-record, New Masters Age 35-39 record.[46]


Para-cycling records[edit]

Men's UCI para-cycling hour record holders[47]
Date Rider Velodrome Distance (km) Category[48] Notes
11 September 1991 Netherlands Jan Mulder Moscow, Russia 48.696 Blind Pilot Tandem with pilot (Richard Belmer) - Best Hour Performance
11 November 1994 France Fransisco Trujillo Bordeaux, France 44.661 C5 Bicycle — Best Hour Performance
25 September 1995 United Kingdom Thomas Evans Manchester, England 40.070 CP3 Bicycle — Best Hour Performance
29 November 1997 France Herve Dechamp Bordeaux, France 49.625 Blind Pilot Tandem with pilot (Guy Rouchouzo) - Best Hour Performance
6 November 1999 France Laurent Thirionet Bordeaux, France 41.031 C2 Bicycle — Best Hour Performance
8 January 2005 United Kingdom Darren Kenny Manchester, England 41.817 C3 Bicycle — Best Hour Performance
8 May 2005 Germany Michael Teuber Augsburg, Germany 39.326 C1 Bicycle — Best Hour Performance
14 February 2009 United Kingdom Darren Kenny Copenhagen, Denmark 40.516 CP3 Bicycle — Absolute Hour Record
Women's UCI para-cycling hour record holders[47]
Date Rider Velodrome Distance (km) Category Notes
19 September 2005 Australia Lindy Hou Sydney, Australia 42.930 Blind Pilot Tandem with pilot (Toireasa Gallagher) - Absolute Hour Record
28 February 2015 United Kingdom Sarah Storey London, England 45.502 C5 Bicycle — First record under unified rules.

Hour record gallery[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The Historical Dictionary of Cycling.  (Jeroen Heijmans, Bill Mallon) lists three further records after Dodds but before Herbert Cortis. Listed only by surname, 1877, Shopee in Cambridge, 26.960, 1878, Weir, in Oxford, 28.542 and Christie, in 1879, 30.374, also in Oxford.
  2. ^ "Berthet/Egg Hour Record".  Oscar Egg's original distance was recorded at 42.122 km. In July 1913 Richard Weise beat this mark, but following protest from Egg the Buffalo track was re-measured and his time changed to 42.360 km, cancelling out Weise's record
  3. ^ "The history of the recumbent bicycle".  On 7 July 1933 Francis Faure rode 45.055 km on a "Velocar" beating Egg's record. This led to the UCI imposing rules regarding bicycle dimensions on 1 April 1934 and Faure's record was moved into a new category, "Records Set By Human Powered Vehicles (HPV's) without Special Aerodynamic Features"


  1. ^ Mallon, Jeroen Heijmans, Bill. Historical dictionary of cycling. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, Inc. ISBN 0810873699. 
  2. ^ "Historical Dictionary of Cycling". google.co.uk. 
  3. ^ "March 25 down the years". ESPN.co.uk. Retrieved 18 September 2014. 
  4. ^ a b c d e Clemitson, Suze (19 September 2014). "Why Jens Voigt and a new group of cyclists want to break the Hour record". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 September 2014. 
  5. ^ Stephen Farrand. "Gallery: Francesco Moser's hour record". Cyclingnews.com. 
  6. ^ a b c "Chronic of the Hour Record". Retrieved 18 September 2014. 
  7. ^ a b c "World Hour Records". Retrieved 18 September 2014. 
  8. ^ "Bike Cult — Sports Records". bikecult. 
  9. ^ "Maria Cressari". 
  10. ^ "Keetie Van Ooosten breaks hour record". pzc. 
  11. ^ "Van Ooosten breaks hour record". pzc. 
  12. ^ "Leontien van Moorsel breaks hour record". pzc. 
  13. ^ "Hour Record rule change — Athlete's hour to be scrapped — Cycling Weekly". Cycling Weekly. 15 May 2014. Retrieved 18 September 2014. 
  14. ^ "UCI changes hour record regulations, allows modern track bikes — VeloNews.com". VeloNews.com. Retrieved 18 September 2014. 
  15. ^ "How the Hour Record Will Save Cycling — The Cycle Life — OutsideOnline.com". Outside Online. Retrieved 18 September 2014. 
  16. ^ Giles Richards. "The Agenda: Jens Voigt aims to break one of cycling’s toughest records — Sport — The Observer". the Guardian. Retrieved 18 September 2014. 
  17. ^ "Answered: 11 questions about Jens Voigt's hour record attempt — VeloNews.com". VeloNews.com. Retrieved 18 September 2014. 
  18. ^ CyclingTips. "Dekker to bid for world hour record at altitude in Mexico at end of February". cyclingtips.com.au. 
  19. ^ "The Hour Record At Altitude". wolfgang-menn.de. 
  20. ^ "Alex Dowsett sets new Hour Record of 52.937km". Cycling News. 2015-05-02. Retrieved 2015-05-02. 
  21. ^ "Cookson reveals that people have come forward to the CIRC Reform Commission — Cyclingnews.com". Cyclingnews.com. Retrieved 18 September 2014. 
  22. ^ Daniel Benson. "Exclusive: Jens Voigt's hour record Trek bike". Cyclingnews.com. 
  23. ^ Michael Pavitt. "Bobridge falls agonisingly short in attempt to break cycling hour record". insidethegames.biz — Olympic, Paralympic and Commonwealth Games News. 
  24. ^ "Martin confirms interest in breaking hour record". VeloNews.com. 
  25. ^ Cycling News. "Bobridge to attempt Hour Record in January". Cyclingnews.com. 
  26. ^ "Sir Bradley Wiggins: 'I want to set new world record at Derby Arena'". Derby Telegraph. 
  27. ^ "Hour Record". www.trekbikes.com. 
  28. ^ "Voigt: I can't ask for a better goodbye". Cyclingnews.com (Future plc). 10 September 2014. Retrieved 19 September 2014. 
  29. ^ a b "Hour Record analysis: Matthias Brändle's big gear — Cycling Weekly". Cycling Weekly. 31 October 2014. 
  30. ^ "IAM Cycling — Matthias Brändle and IAM Cycling take on the UCI Hour Record". iamcycling.ch. 
  31. ^ Editor. "Jack Bobridge set for Hour Record attempt". roadcycling.co.nz. 
  32. ^ Zeb Woodpower. "Jack Bobridge Hour Record attempt 2015: Results — Cyclingnews.com". Cyclingnews.com. 
  33. ^ "Bike Cult Book: Online Resource: World Hour Records". bikecult.com. 
  34. ^ "UCI Hour Record: Thomas Dekker’s Koga TeeTeeTrack bike with 58x14 gearing". road.cc. 
  35. ^ Cycling News. "Dekker on track for Hour Record attempt". Cyclingnews.com. 
  36. ^ Cycling News. "Gustav Larsson to attempt Hour Record at Revolution Series". Cyclingnews.com. 
  37. ^ Gustav Larsson UCI Hour Record attempt. FACE Partnership. 14 March 2015. Retrieved 14 March 2015. 
  38. ^ "Alex Dowsett announces new Hour Record date". Cycling Weekly. 31 March 2015. 
  39. ^ "Alex Dowsett’s Canyon Speedmax WHR (Video)". Cycling Weekly. 30 April 2015. 
  40. ^ Tom Ballard / Immediate Media. "Pro bike: Alex Dowsett's Canyon Speedmax WHR". Cyclingnews.com. 
  41. ^ "Wiggins schedules hour record attempt for June 7". VeloNews.com. 
  42. ^ "Britain's Sarah Storey to tackle women's hour record — VeloNews.com". VeloNews.com. 
  43. ^ "Joanna Rowsell interested in world hour record attempt". SkySports. 
  44. ^ "Van Houweling sets Pan American Record". velonews. 
  45. ^ Tom Ballard / Immediate Media. "Pro bike: Dame Sarah Storey's hour record Ridley Arena Carbon". Cyclingnews.com. 
  46. ^ "Sarah Storey misses Hour Record by 563m". Cycling Weekly. 28 February 2015. 
  47. ^ a b "Para-cycling — About". uci.ch. 
  48. ^ "Paralympics 2012: classifications explained". Telegraph.co.uk. 24 August 2012. 

External links[edit]