With about ten minutes left on the clock, porters set up the UCI Hour Record technical area with a single black leather armchair. Framed by UCI-logoed screens her support crew and media await the arrival of Sarah Storey. It’s almost like a trackside throne where the seated victor would be crowned.
This time however, those intensely watching the numbers know the game is up. Storey is still flying. The crowd’s roar no doubt encouraging her around the bends but with each lap ticked off, her coach Chris Furber is moving further away from her record-breaking markers. Unlike the triumph of Rohan Dennis in the men’s equivalent barely one month ago, there would be no new women’s UCI Hour Record set today. Storey would fall agonisingly short.
When the gun signaled the end of the hour, Sarah wound down over a single lap. Her helpers cradle her and help her off the bike and the physical toll from the past 60 minutes is obvious. They set her down on the leather chair for all to see but in a startling moment, she suddenly slips forward to lay supine on the boards, eyes closed. We all know how it is, when cramp hits the thighs. In that moment nothing else matters except trying to alleviate her pain.
They say of the time trial that you cannot be satisfied if you don’t leave it all on the road and nothing more is true than with The Hour. “It was definitely the hardest hour of my life,” exclaimed Storey moments after regaining composure. “It’s a once in a lifetime experience, the holy grail of cycling. But I won’t be trying it again this week, that’s for sure. The crowd were also amazing,” she added.
Jack Bobridge, who in similar fashion to Storey fell just 552 metres short of the men’s target earlier in the year, shared a similar sentiment: “This is the closest to death I will ever be before dying,” said the former WorldTour rider.
How can you ever prepare for a physical effort such as that? Is it all in the mind, or can the science of training with power make the difference?
Here at Verve we passionately believe that science and psychology are mutually supportive. We are proud that Dame Sarah Storey chose InfoCrank for her preparation and we thank her graceful tribute to our contribution:
“Having accurate power measurement for training was key. Only @vervecycling #infocrank have the technology to provide this accuracy. #quality,” she said on Twitter.
View the full official UCI video below
Read the report by Observer Sport