On Friday evening in Mexico – a country synonymous with groundbreaking cycling exploits over 60 minutes – Vittoria Bussi made history, becoming the first woman ever to break the 50km barrier as she definitively reclaimed the UCI Hour Record.
The 36-year-old Italian set a blistering new benchmark of 50.267km at the Velodromo Bicentenario in Aguascalientes last night, easily surpassing Ellen van Dijk’s previous record of 49.254km set in May last year, as well as bettering her own past Hour Record by over two kilometres.
That previous 48.007km benchmark set by Bussi in September 2018, also achieved at the high-altitude velodrome in Aguascalientes, stood for three years before Britain’s Joss Lowden, and then Van Dijk, surpassed it in quick succession in 2021 and 2022 respectively.
“I’m thrilled to have beaten the UCI Hour Record by Tissot for the second time in my career, covering the distance of 50.267km on the same velodrome where I previously broke it in 2018,” Bussi told the UCI after her victorious ride.
“I owe this to all those who supported me throughout the year, believing in me and my project. This achievement is the result of outstanding teamwork, and I want to thank everyone who contributed to make it happen.”
Bussi’s history-making ride last night was the culmination of her ‘Road2Record’ campaign, which brought together aerodynamic, training, and nutritional experts with the specific goal of enabling her to surpass the 50km mark for the hour.
The 36-year-old, who holds a DPhil in Pure Mathematics from the University of Oxford, utilised her mathematical expertise by playing an active role in the aerodynamic preparation for her effort, the third time she has taken on the Hour Record, after falling just short in 2017.
She also launched a crowdfunding campaign to support her attempt, raising over €12,000 on GoFundMe.
“As a mathematician, I contribute to aerodynamic and technological studies, aiming to break the 50km mark in the next attempt at the women's UCI Hour Record,” Bussi said after announcing her attempt last month.
“I am deeply grateful to all the people for the support and to those who helped make this attempt a real one. I would also like to thank all the sponsors that believed and supported me during these tough months.”
Like her previous record-breaking Hour in 2018 – when she pulled out of her initial attempt after 44 minutes, before returning, Graham Obree-style, to break the record the following day – Bussi’s path to history this week was far from straightforward.
She was originally due to attempt the hour on 11 October, but a sudden fall in temperatures resulted in suboptimal track conditions and a rescheduled Friday 13th rendezvous – which, in the end, proved very lucky for the history-making Italian.
Ryan joined road.cc in December 2021 and since then has kept the site’s readers and listeners informed and enthralled (well at least occasionally) on news, the live blog, and the road.cc Podcast. After boarding a wrong bus at the world championships and ruining a good pair of jeans at the cyclocross, he now serves as road.cc’s senior news writer. Before his foray into cycling journalism, he wallowed in the equally pitiless world of academia, where he wrote a book about Victorian politics and droned on about cycling and bikes to classes of bored students (while taking every chance he could get to talk about cycling in print or on the radio). He can be found riding his bike very slowly around the narrow, scenic country lanes of Co. Down.