Joss Lowden breaks women’s UCI Hour Record

Joss Lowden looked so comfortable in breaking the women’s UCI Hour Record on Thursday the British rider admitted she may try again to see if she could push it even further.

The 33-year-old covered a distance of 48.405 kilometres at the Grenchen velodrome in Switzerland to breeze past the mark of 48.007km set by Vittoria Bussi in 2018.

Lowden was on the required pace virtually throughout her attempt, riding with confidence after unofficially breaking the record in training earlier in the year.

“There’s definitely an element of relief,” Lowden told the PA news agency. “I definitely played it safe. I knew what pace I could sit at, what I could do comfortably and ride it in.

“The last 10 minutes were not comfortable – it felt like time was going really quickly and then it just stalled and that’s when you know you’ve paced it about right because you just want it to be over.”

Lowden’s distance not only broke Bussi’s official record, but also the women’s “absolute record” of 48.159km covered by Jeannie Longo in 1996 using an aerodynamic position banned by the UCI.

But there are several factors about Lowden’s attempt to suggest she could have gone even further.

Both Longo and Bussi set their times at altitude in Aguascalientes, Mexico, whereas Lowden was close to sea level in Grenchen.

Lowden added almost 400 metres to the distance set by Vittoria Bussi in 2018 (Matt Alexander/PA)
Lowden added almost 400 metres to the distance set by Vittoria Bussi in 2018 (Matt Alexander/PA)

Furthermore Lowden, who rides on the road for Drops Le Col, is not a track specialist, and competed in three events at last week’s UCI Road World Championships in Flanders – hardly a conventional build-up.

Though she has been preparing for her shot at history with partner and aerodynamicist Dan Bigham – a multiple British national champion on the track – she admitted her lack of experience in a velodrome cost her.

“Just from my line today, you could see I’m not a track specialist…” she said. “I’m sure I wasted a lot of metres going wide, but I did enough.

“Maybe if I could go to Mexico, do it at altitude, we could see how I could really go. We’ll see.”

Lowden will be back at the velodrome on Friday to support Bigham in his own Hour Record attempt.

However, even if the 29-year-old beats the distance of 55.089km set by Victor Campernaerts in 2019, Bigham will not be eligible for the UCI record as he is not in the World Anti-Doping Agency’s testing pool.

He can, however, break the British record, currently held by Sir Bradley Wiggins at 54.526km.

The men’s record has grown considerably in stature since the UCI amended the rules in 2014, with interest fuelled considerably by Wiggins’ ride in 2015.

Lowden hopes her own efforts will push more women to test themselves against the clock.

“It’s a big thing on the men’s side, why is it not on the women’s?” she asked. “It should be, and if me doing it raises the profile, I think it’s a good thing.”