Today in sport: Henri Desgrange sets the 1st cycling world record in 1893 | WDVM25 and DCW50
Today in the history of sport: May 11, 1893
On May 11, 1893, Henri Desgrange set the 1st cycling world record by covering 35.325 km (21.95 miles) per hour.
The hour record, called at the time “the hour of the athletes”, is the record for the longest distance traveled in an hour by bike from a standing start, and is one of the most prestigious cycling records.
Desgrange, who is credited with founding the Tour de France, his record was the first to be officially recognized by the International Cycling Association (ICU), which is the predecessor of today’s International Cycling Union (UCI) hui.
Over the years there has been controversy regarding record times as the equipment has changed dramatically. In 1972 Eddy Merckx set a new hour record of 49.431 km (30.715 mi), a race he claimed was “the hardest race I have ever done”. Then in 1984, another new record would be set by Francesco Moser at 51,151 km (31,784 mi) using disc wheels and a combination of skin which helped aerodynamics.
The controversy culminated in the 1990s, which led to the UCI setting two separate records in 1997. The first record was the hourly record which only allowed the use of traditional equipment, then the another record was known as the record for best human effort, which enabled the use of modern technology. As a result, all records after Merckx were moved to the Best Human Effort record book.
In 1996, British cyclist Chris Boardman set an hour record of 56.375 km (35.030 mi). With the reclassification in 1997, his record was then considered a record for best human effort. In 2000, Boardman attempted the hour record on a traditional bicycle and broke the Merckx record of 10 meters at 49.441 km (30.721 mi).
Today, cyclists are attempting the unified hour record created by the UCI in 2014 which merged the two classifications and standardized equipment which conforms to Olympic track cycling standards.