In his latest column, Brendan Gallagher looks back on a memorable weekend for British cycling, at home and abroad and turns his attention to the Hour Record and the battle between Alex Dowesett and Sir Bradley Wiggins.

HEAVEN knows attempting the Hour record must be difficult enough for those brave and talented souls who submit themselves to the torture but I'm loving the extra dynamic of watching  compete against the 'other man' as well as the clock which has resulted from the current spate of attempts. The target distance changes every other month and those accepting the challenge have a big call to make. Do you chase that latest distance or some theoretical figure they feel is you own personal Everest.
At the Manchester Velodrome last week when Alex Dowsett broke the world record with a splendid 52.937m it was almost as if Rohan Dennis – who started the day as the World Record Holder – was lined up on the other side of the track. It was the Australian and his schedule that Dowsett rode directly against, manoo mano. Win that 'race' and he would de facto, break the world record.
""Dowsett (pictured left in the 2014 Friends Life Yellow Jersey) won that race in a style which suggests there is much more in the tank for another attempt down the line. Still only 26, I can see him doing a Boardman and Obree and coming back for more especially if Brad Wiggins raises the bar further next month during his attempt at the Lee Valley Velodrome. That would demand a response surely?
The plan last Saturday was simply for Dowsett to keep in touch with Dennis' schedule up to 45-minutes, riding as "easy as it is possible to do under the circumstances”, which is precisely what he did nurdling along between five and ten seconds behind the Australian. So much so that Dowsett admitted afterwards that the first 30-minutes felt remarkably easy although it’s all relative, this is one of the world's top time-trial riders we are talking about.
Then at 45-minutes, he began to smoothly squeeze out the faster laps just at the time that Dennis had encountered a sticky patch during his world record ride in February. Mentally Dowsett glanced over at Dennis and saw him wobbling a little. Going into the final ten minutes Dowsett made the ‘catch’ and after that it was a matter of not overcooking things ridiculously and bringing the record home, eventually putting 446m into Dennis and finishing on 52.937km.
Dowsett's was the seventh attempt at the record in the last eight months with a new mark being set on four occasions – by Jens Voigt, Matthias Brandle, Rohan Dennis and finally Dowsett himself. The 'opponent' and his modus operandi across the other side of the velodrome is changing regularly although the duration of the race of course never changes.
The Wiggins attempt will be double fascinating; well you wouldn't expect anything else to be honest. He has stated this week that his intention is to "put it out of reach" and at the age of 35, with Rio2016 very soon about to take over his life completely again, there must be a massive temptation to try and park that record on a very high shelf indeed. He has mentioned 54km and I suspect he is thinking 55km.
But here's the thing. Such an approach could be truly spectacular and historic but it could also end in tears as it did with Jack Bobridge earlier this year. Going for broke is the only thing barring mechanical failure or injury that I can see preventing Wiggins taking the record because if ever a rider was built for the Hour it is he
""Much as I would love to see a Beamon-esque performance from Wiggins on 7 June – and he is certainly capable of it – come the day of judgement I fancy years of exquisite pace judgement during his various road time-trial triumphs will come into play. 
During the second half of his career Wiggins totally mastered the art of negative splits and had no qualms in seeing his closest opponents, like Tony Martin, go out noticeably quicker. He was more than happy to metaphorically tuck in just behind them before unleashing a ride of gathering and unstoppable momentum. At Lee Valley, when push comes to shove, I can see Wiggins instinctively mimicking that approach. He will stalk the Dowsett splits until the last 8-10 minutes when, if all is well, he will open up the throttle, make the ‘catch’ and roar off into the distance 
Wiggins knows from his Individual Pursuiting days on the track that records and personal bests invariably come in qualifying. Come the final, no matter how good your form, you tend to ride the opponent and 7 June is effectively his final, with Alex Dowsett the opponent. It is also, in all probability, his first and last attempt at his event. Like I say fascinating.  

If you want to watch Chris Boardman's thoughts on the Hour Record then click here to watch a short video from last week's Aviva launch.


WE like to keep a protective eye on the remarkable Steve Abraham in this column and the good news – in fact the inspiring news – is that Steve has been back on the road on a specially adapted recumbent trike giving it heaps for the last three weeks or so after an accident had seemingly scuppered his attempt on Tommy Goodwin's world record 75,065 miles ridden in a calendar year.
Steve suffered a badly broken right ankle when hit from behind by a moped rider and although well 'ahead' of Godwin's schedule at the time his attempt seemed doomed as he was carted off to hospital to have metal plates inserted in his leg.
It’s been a major blow, nobody can deny that, but his back up team have fitted him out with a specially adapted trike which enable him to rest his raised right leg an cycle one legged around his Milton Keynes base.  He is currently averaging ten hours and 160km a day as he attempts to minimise the damage in the hope he can return to full fighting form by mid-summer and make up the lost ground on Godwin. 
SOMETIMES you just have to pause a minute and look around afresh because there is a very real danger of becoming blasé about the cycling success story in Britain over the last decade which has been enacted during one, a severe world economic recession and two, a blizzard of doping stories regarding some of the biggest names globally. In Britain at least cycling has been impervious to both.
Take this last weekend for example, ostensibly a pretty bog standard couple of scruffy days in early May and seemingly nothing special in the cycling world. No Grand Tours taking place, no track or road championships to get excited about, no medals being won anywhere. No controversies, at least nothing we know about, nor arguments or spats.
Excuse me.  Not only did we have Alex Dowsett's historic Hour record in Manchester but over the course of three days in Yorkshire we saw crowds lining the roads the like of which would make any race promoter in Europe drool with envy. The inaugural Tour de Yorkshire delivered on every level, even the weather was relatively kind compared with some of the tempests being experienced in neighbouring counties. 
The crowd scenes were reminiscent of the Tour de France last year and the scenery was epic, in fact my only caveat would be a slightly tame day's race on the final stage as Sky exerted an iron grip on proceedings to successfully guide Lars Petter Nordaug home but that's cycling, you can't always script the actual racing. The Tour de Yorkshire is here to stay and gives the Great Britain a powerful twin hand to play alongside the Aviva Tour of Britain every September. Great Britain is now a major cycling nation and it is only right and proper that we have a prestigious internationally respected national Tour and a high quality stage race earlier in the season to reflect that. Indeed that should now be the minimum requirement.
""Meanwhile on foreign shores, on this bog standard scruffy weekend in early May, Mark Cavendish was confirming his encouraging start to the season with the Points jersey and three stage wins at the Presidential Tour of Turkey (pictured left) and Chris Froome showed signs of building form with a third place in GC at the Tour of Romandie. I can remember, not that long ago actually, when both performances would have warranted glowing reports in the press, now such performances from British riders are so routine they are scarcely mentioned
That of course is he downside, and irony, of a sport becoming so successful that only Grand Tour wins and World and Olympic gold medals are considered really newsworthy although it was heartening to see that Dowsett's ride in Manchester seemed to strike a chord with many of the Sunday papers. 
The sheer scope and scale of cycling in this country now is staggering but we should never take it for granted. It's tough getting to the top but it’s even tougher staying there.