Double Olympic cyclist Jaime Nielsen will look to put herself into the record books this week when she takes on the gruelling one-hour record at the Avantidrome in Cambridge on Friday evening. Nielsen is taking advantage of the post-Olympic year to chase a personal goal of completing this rare event, which actually dates back nearly 150 years.
The 31 year old will be the first female in New Zealand to attempt the one-hour ride, and expects to complete more than 160 laps. “It’s something that has intrigued me for some time. After Rio I was unsure what I wanted to do and this has given me something different to focus on and in some ways has re-ignited my passion for the sport,” Nielsen said. “An Olympic campaign is all-encompassing really and there’s huge pressure. Of course the Olympic event for me is the team pursuit, and while I love training and racing with my teammates, this gives me the opportunity to do something for myself.”
“This is really a trial and I will see what happens. If it goes well, then we will reschedule an official attempt at a world record in the future.”
The one-hour record dates back to 1876 when Frenchman Henri Desgrange, the first organiser of the Tour de France, set the world record in Paris at 26.508kms on a penny farthing. Most of the current world best times have been set at altitude, with the current women’s world mark at 47.980 set in the rarefied airs of Colorado in 2016 by American Evelyn Stevens, a double world team time trial champion.
The best sea-level time for women was the previous world time of 46.882 by Australian Bridie O’Donnell at the Adelaide Super-Drome in February last year. Nielsen says that the previous sea-level world mark is a realistic goal for her on Friday. “I’ve only been training specifically for this for two months so it is a bit of an unknown but I would like to think I can get to that mark which would be fantastic. Anything more would be a bonus.”
Because Nielsen only decided on this venture in late May, she had left it too late to lodge with UCI as an official attempt at the World Record although she would be thrilled if she threatened Stevens’ mark set at altitude.
If she completes the one-hour attempt it will become an official New Zealand record, with Nielsen to undergo official drug testing post-race and Cycling New Zealand providing full support from its commissaires and race officials.
The best time at the Avantidrome was achieved earlier this year by Rob Scarlett who rode 48.557km in 60 minutes.