When Alex Dowsett attempts to retake his World Hour Record title in November, he will do so on a track version of Factor’s as-yet-unreleased Hanzo time trial bike.
In an exclusive conversation with Cyclingnews, the Briton revealed his tech choices, as well as his pacing strategy and target power as he attempts to beat Victor Campanerts’ record of 55.089km.
Dowsett’s Hour Record attempt, which will take place at over 6,000 feet in Aguascalientes, Mexico, will mark the official launch date of the Factor Hanzo time trial bike that he and his Israel Start-Up Nation teammates have been using since the Giro d’Italia. As a result, we’re unfortunately unable to bring you images of the Briton’s bike – which he says is currently still only a frameset anyway – but he says that all the decisions have been made, bar a few last-minute optimisations that will be tested on the track.
The six-time British national time trial champion, who was forced to abandon his title-defending ride on Thursday when “aggressive nitrate loading” with beetroot shots led to an unfortunate reappearance of his breakfast, also revealed his pacing strategy for the attempt.
“I’ll ride to Victor’s schedule, or the lap times required to break Victor’s hour record. And then, whereas last time I didn’t let off the leash until five minutes to go, this time because I’ve done one now, I know that if I’m in a good place, I can start nudging it up with 20 minutes to go,” Dowsett explained to Cyclingnews.
“I’ve not really got a distance in mind, only that I want to break the record.”
In terms of power, Dowsett states that his attempt will be targeting lap times rather than a power target, but that he has a rough idea of the watts required.
“I think the 350ish [watts] mark, give or take, is roughly what we’re expecting, which makes sense as Victor was around the 340 mark and I’m a bit bigger than he is and technology’s moved on a bit since then.”
Referring to his CdA, which stands for Coefficient of Drag x frontal Area and is the effective measure of a rider’s aerodynamic slipperiness, Dowsett said he tries not to focus on the specific number as it can vary between different wind tunnels, but that he simply aims to improve every time.
“If I do a wind tunnel session, it’s not about the CDA I take from that wind tunnel session, it’s about making the number at the end of the session lower than the number at the start.”
However, for the aero nerds among us, he did let us into his usual figures:
“I’ve done a lot of different tunnels and tracks and methods to getting CDA and I’ve got everything from 0.16 to 0.23. As accurate as we can get it, I’m around the 0.18 mark, but that’s taken with a pinch of salt.”
Dowsett is clearly a rider who takes optimisation incredibly seriously, and to that end, he’s opted for a couple of special additions to his setup.
The newest of which is the new Aerocoach Aten chainring, which retails for an incredible £950.00 and claims to save 2.4 watts (or 25cm per lap) at 60kph. The second comes by way of his clothing, in the form of a £3,250.00 skinsuit and overshoe combination made by British company Vorteq. Dowsett has been using the brand’s overshoes throughout the year, as we highlighted during our Giro d’Italia time trial tech gallery.
Dowsett’s Hour Record tech selections
Frame: Track-adapted version of Factor Hanzo
Base Bar: Proprietary to Factor Hanzo
Aero extensions: Aerocoach Ascalon
Wheels: “We’ll test to see. I’ve got the option of the Campags [Campagnolo Ghibli double-disc track wheels] which I have from the last attempt, and HED have kindly supplied me with some wheels. We’ll test in Mexico to make sure we use the optimal setup.”
Tyres: Vittoria Pista tubular
Tyre size: “That depends on the wheel. With the Campags, it’s a 19[mm wide tyre] at the front and a 23[mm] at the back. On the HED’s, 23s, because they’re a 28mm rim.”
Tyre pressure: Depends on tyres and the track
Power meter: “I have a couple of different options. We’ll have to see if 4iiii can do something that’s track specific. The track can play havoc with the strain gauges on power meters so we need to make sure that if I’m going to use a crank-arm based power meter, that it’s going to return some accurate numbers. They work fantastically on the road, we just need to make sure they tick all the boxes on the track.
“The other option is a Power2Max spider-based crank, and the other is just running no power meter.
“Ultimately, once the gun goes off, it doesn’t really matter, and if there’s a considerably faster options that’s not a power meter, we’ll take that.
Chainring: Aerocoach Aten
Computer: Hammerhead Karoo 2, mounted under the saddle
Bearings: “CeramicSpeed everywhere…I’ll do things like take all the seals out. Even though you don’t need to, it makes me happy.
The kit: Vorteq custom skinsuit and overshoes
Helmet: “Probably an HJC. Compared with the POC Tempor, it’s a similar speed. The POC at its absolute best is faster than pretty much anything, but as soon as you move your head outside of that position, it falls off a cliff. It’s very sensitive to movement. Whereas the HJC, it’s still frighteningly fast, but you can have a good look around and it doesn’t affect it too much”
“I’ve never tested the Kask Mistral, so that’s something we’re doing this afternoon in the wind tunnel.”
Dowsett’s attempt at the World Hour Record is set for November 3, and the Belgian Campanaerts has already vowed to attempt to retain his title if Dowsett manages to beat it. However, competition is hotting up for the record as current world time trial champion, Filippo Ganna, is also considering a tilt at the prestigious title after averaging 57.5kph in a 30-minute test.