Nielsen breaks hour record
Kiwi cyclist Jaime Nielsen hopped on her bike in Cambridge and smashed the world sea-level hour record, that is.
In covering 47.791km in an hour at the Avantidrome, she went 969m further than the previous best mark of 46.822, set by Australian Brodie O’Donnell in Adelaide in January last year.
But what was really impressive was how close she got to the overall record, set by American Evelyn Stevens at altitude in Colorado the following month.
That mark was 47.980km – 189m, or less than one lap, more than Nielsen managed.
But while the Waikato cyclist will happily take the bragging rights, her attempt won’t be recognised by the sport’s governing body, the UCI, as she didn’t lodge her intentions early enough. It will still stand as the New Zealand women’s record.
The 31-year-old was cheered on by a crowd of several hundred spectators, which included plenty of family and friends, and at the end of her hour on the track, she was exhausted.
‘‘I am so happy it’s over,’’ she said afterwards.
‘‘It was such a challenge. I am stoked and I am satisfied. I know I gave it all I can.
‘‘I knew it was realistic to get the sea-level mark. It came down to counting the laps and at one stage I was counting half laps.’’
Given that Nielsen came so close to the world record, set at altitude, while at sea level, it would appear that that mark is within her reach.
The question now is whether she wants to go again, and in the immediate aftermath of Friday’s attempt, she suggested she was up for it.
‘‘I’d love to give it another shot. At this stage I am glad it’s over.
‘‘There were feelings that I had to overcome and I think the crowd helped me get through in the end.
‘‘I had little patches when the pain would build up, but it was a matter of refreshing and getting back into my rhythm.’’
The concept of the hour record began in 1876, when Frenchman Henri Desgrange – the organiser of the first Tour de France – covered 26.508km on a penny-farthing.
Nielsen’s ride got underway at 6.13pm on the dot, but the presence of the unlucky number didn’t prove to be an omen.
Half an hour in, she had covered 23.470km, and was on track to beat O’Donnell’s mark comfortably, and as her effort went on, it became more a question of whether she would beat Stevens.