Sir Bradley Wiggins broke the UCI Hour Record but the Beamonesque mark he targeted was beyond even him.
Tickets sold out in seven minutes to watch Wiggins ride around in circles for 60 minutes, targeting fellow Briton Alex Dowsett’s record of 52.937 kilometres.
And the 2012 Tour de France champion, four-time Olympic gold medallist and world time-trial champion claimed the record in an official distance of 54.526km. He had the strength to raise his bike above his head in celebration.
Wiggins had set himself a target of over 55km (220 laps) and a record which would last a generation, thus bearing comparison with Bob Beamon’s long jump world record from 1968 which lasted almost 23 years.
But the conditions at the Lee Valley VeloPark – formerly known as the Olympic Velodrome – were not conducive to such a distance and Dowsett may be among those encouraged to try again.
For the 35-year-old Wiggins it was a one-time opportunity, with the Rio Olympics next summer likely to be his swansong.
Shorn of the beard he has grown since his distinctive sideburns sported in 2012 attracted too much attention, Wiggins was clearly keen to get started.
Roared on by the partisan crowd, which included fellow Tour winner and one-time Hour Record holder Miguel Indurain, he went through 100 laps at 54.612kph speed, well ahead of the pace set by Dowsett, who achieved his record in Manchester on May 2.
Wiggins, with his metronomic pedalling style and cadence, was consistently above 54.5kph pace, but his grimace became increasingly pronounced.
He had spoken of breaking the ride into five 12-minute segments and compared the final section to being like boxing’s fabled fight, the Thrilla in Manilla.
He surpassed Dowsett’s distance with just under two minutes to go and continued to push forwards.
Wiggin said: “If this was the only thing I did in my career it might have gone unnoticed. But to do it after everything I’ve done, as an old man, is wonderful.