The hour record is considered one of the most prestigious titles in cycling. It’s a simple format – the cyclist rides as far as they can on a velodrome in one hour.

The current record holder is Britain’s Dan Bigham. He took to the line at the Tissot Velodrome in Grenchen, Switzerland on 12th August this year when, from the obligatory standing start, he covered a staggering 55.548 KM before collapsing to the track completely exhausted after the clock hit sixty minutes.

Competitive cycling has been part of Tissot’s DNA since the brand was founded. Today they are the official partner of Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), the sports governing body. If you fancy a crack at the hour record you’ll need to comply with very strict rules laid out by the UCI, in terms of the bike you use and the kit you wear, but timing is the responsibility of Tissot.

The first universally accepted record was in 1876 when the American Frank Dodds rode 26.508 km on a penny-farthing, but the first “official” attempt was by Henri Desgrange at the Buffalo Velodrome, Paris in 1893. Henri went on to establish the Holy Grail of cycling events in 1903, the Tour de France.

Over the years the hour record has seen many cycling legends nudge the distance forward in small increments, helped by marginal gains in both bike design and science within the sport. Every second counts!

In 1993 Scottish cyclist Graeme Obree declared to the world that he was going to attempt the record. Nicknamed “The Flying Scotsman”, Obree built his own rather radical bike for the record, which included some parts that he’d pinched from an old washing machine. His position on the bike was nothing short of bizarre with his elbows bent and tucked into his sides like those of a skier. His chest was basically leaning on a narrow flat handlebar, taken from a kiddie’s bike!

The cycling authorities didn’t like it simply because it wasn’t “conventional” but it certainly worked, as Obree breezed through to break the record. The following year he broke the record again and continued to test the authorities when he unveiled the even more radical “superman” position, but he pushed the number up to 52.713KM.

You have to wonder just how far two human legs can push the number, but as always seems to be the case there’s another champion cyclist in the queue to have a crack – Italian, Filippo Ganna is busy preparing for his day on the velodrome and an hour of screaming pain. Although it’s not certain that he’ll break the record it is certain that Tissot will be there keeping tabs on the time!

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