Mike Rowbottom

For the moment, the blue riband of cycling - the Hour record - rests with an Englishman. But another Englishman won’t rest until it rests with him - for a very long time.

The first Englishman - Commonwealth time trial gold medallist Alex Dowsett - belatedly accomplished his goal at the weekend as he set the new record of 52.937 kilometres at the Manchester Velodrome.

The other Englishman - multiple Olympic champion Sir Bradley Wiggins - is due to make what he says will be his one and only attempt on the Hour record on June 7, at the Lee Valley track that was used for the London 2012 Games.

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Sir Bradley Wiggins, pictured before the Third Stage of the recent Tour of Yorkshire, has grand designs on cycling's Hour record, which he will attempt on June 7 in London, with the aim of making it his own for "20 years" if possible ©Getty Images

And the 35-year-old doesn’t just want to break the record, he wants to put it “out of reach”.

"It sounds a bit horrible to say, but I think I could break the record tomorrow," Sir Bradley told The Times.

"But I don't just want to break it, I want to put it right up there, as far out of reach as I can.”

Before his record attempt in Manchester, Dowsett was asked about how he was dealing with the thought that the seven-times Olympic medallist and first Briton to win the Tour de France would be targeting the same record within five weeks.

"It's not going to make a blind bit of difference," Dowsett insisted. "Somebody told me that he put up on his Instagram account that he was doing 20-minute blocks at 55kmh.

“If he's doing that then he is just going to blow whatever any of us do out of the water."

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England's Commonwealth time trial champion Alex Dowsett celebrates setting the latest Hour record of 52.937km in Manchester on Saturday. How long will it last? ©Getty Images

Sir Bradley has made it clear that he does indeed believe he can add two kilometres to the current mark. "I've got 55km in my head and I believe that's realistic," he said. "And I think if I do that it will stand for 20 years."

He believes his experience on the roads with Team Sky has effectively prepared him for the forthcoming challenge.

"I don't see it as being any harder than climbing the Ventoux to save fourth place in the Tour de France," he said.

"I can't see it being any harder than keeping concentration for three weeks to win the Tour, or riding around Hampton Court with the weight of expectation to win Olympic gold."

Sir Bradley Wiggins en route to time trial gold at the London 2012 Olympics. He believes such pressurised experiences will be ideal preparation for his Hour record challenge ©Getty Images
Sir Bradley Wiggins en route to time trial gold at the London 2012 Olympics. He believes such pressurised experiences will be ideal preparation for his Hour record challenge ©Getty Images

If Sir Bradley does manage to beat Dowsett’s mark - by whatever margin - he will become the fifth man to break the Hour record inside nine months.

In what was his farewell ride, Germany’s Jens Voigt set a mark of 51.115km on September 18 last year. On October 30, Matthias Brandle managed 51.852. After a narrow failure by Jack Bobridge on January 31 this year (51.300), his fellow Australian Rohan Dennis pushed on to record 52.491 on February 8.

Dowsett, a 26-year-old from Maldon in Essex who has defied medical opinion by achieving what he has despite being a haemophiliac, had also been due to make his attempt in February, but the attempt on what was branded “The Perfect Hour” was set back by imperfect preparation when he broke his collarbone.

This sudden intensity of interest has been engendered by a decision taken in May last year by the International Cycling Union (UCI) to reverse its position and allow riders seeking the Hour record to benefit from regulated technological innovation.

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Germany's Jens Voigt starts the new revolution in the Hour record in his final ride on September 18 last year when he set a mark of 51.115km ©Getty Images

Having got the wind up about the way the Hour record was being swiftly extended with the help of technological innovation throughout the 1990s, thanks to an illustrious band of riders - Spain’s Miguel Indurain, Switerland’s Tony Rominger, England’s Chris Boardman and Scotland’s Graeme Obree - the UCI announced that all men’s records since Eddy Merckx’s 1972 mark of 49.431, set on a regulation drop handlebar bike with round steel tubing frame and wire spokes, had to be degraded to Best Human Efforts.

Official UCI records had henceforth to be set with equipment broadly similar to that with which Merckx had succeeded. In other words, no aerodynamic time trial helmets, no discus or tri-spoke wheels, no aerodynamic bars or monocoque frames.

Boardman’s existing record of 56.375km, set on the Manchester Velodrome in 1996, thus became the Best Human Effort.

Not surprisingly, perhaps, the swift records and record responses - with Obree and Boardman coming on like Ovett and Coe - ceased.

Later in 2000, eight years after he had taken Olympic gold in the Barcelona Games time trial, the 32-year-old Boardman - riding a Merckx-style traditional bike - established the “new” record on the same Manchester track, this time covering 49.441km.

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No pain, no gain - England's Chris Boardman shows how hard the Hour record is after covering 49.441km in Manchester to set the first of the "re-set" UCI records in 2000 ©Getty Images

Which effectively put a stop to the progress.

It was not until five years later, in Moscow, Czech Republic’s Ondrej Sosenka managed to reach 49.700km as the final second was ticked off the hour.

The credibility of Sosenka’s achievement was seriously undermined given that he suffered a second, career-ending doping suspension in 2008.

But it was his mark which was the official target in May last year when the UCI decided to unchanged its collective mind and allow innovative technology to become a part of record efforts once again.

(Incidentally, the UCI have offered an earlier example of their 2000 volte face.  On July 7, 1933, Francis Faure set what would have been a new record of 45.055km on a “Velocar”. But this led to the cycling body imposing rules regarding bike dimensions on April 1, 1934, which meant Faure’s record moved into a new category - the catchily named “Records Set By Human Powered Vehicles (HPVs) without Special Aerodynamic Features.” At least Best Human Effort was succinct.)

If Wiggins succeeds in his ambition, it will be a unique achievement in the history of the Hour record.

Since records began, with the first set at 23.331 by James Moore on the Molyneaux Grounds in Wolverhampton, none has lasted two decades.

The man who has come closest to that achievement is Oscar Egg, whose record of 43.525 set on August 18, 1914 was not beaten until August 25, 1933, when Jan Van Hout managed 44.588. And the intervening World War was hardly conducive to record attempts.

A record to last for 20 years…

That is a relatively easy thing to say, and a hard thing to achieve. But Sir Bradley  has demonstrated throughout his illustrious career that he is a man who lives up to his words.