Michael Pavitt
Michael Pavitt ©ITGBritain's most decorated Paralympic athlete, Dame Sarah Storey, lies flat on her back, exhausted, after completing her women's UCI hour record attempt at the Lee Valley Velopark, the home of track cycling at the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

By contrast, a standing ovation was taking place in the crowd, with the applause both a mix of admiration of the 11-time Paralympic gold medallist and an appreciation of her efforts in completing the gruelling and brutal event.

Storey was attempting to beat the existing record of 46.065 kilometres set by Leontien Zijlaard-van Moorsel of The Netherlands back in 2003. With the record set in the altitude of Mexico City, it was always going to prove a difficult ask. Despite falling short of the distance by posting 45.502km for the hour, the 37-year-old can add her name to the list of elite cyclists that have continued the renaissance of cycling's historic event.

I have to admit that to some trepidation as I made my way to London to watch the attempt, as I had my doubts over whether the hour record would capture the imagination of causal viewers of cycling. Many of the people who made up the crowd, I assumed, would be used to the excitement of the sprints and crashes that are commonplace at an Olympic or World Championships.

Therefore, the prospect of watching a cyclist, embark on a sustained effort, with little change in pace, for an hour might not be viewed with the same level of excitement.

Dame Sarah Storey was the first woman to attempt the record following a rule change last May ©Getty ImagesDame Sarah Storey was the first woman to attempt the record following a rule change last May ©Getty Images

Yet Dame Sarah's attempt was the headline act of the Revolution Series programme, which also featured British double Olympic champion Laura Trott, as well as fellow London 2012 gold medallists and home favourites Peter Kennaugh and Ed Clancy. Also among the line-up was Australia's Jack Bobridge, who recently narrowly missed out on the men's record and described his attempt as "a bit like dying".

My doubts about the crowd's enthusiasm for the event were quickly put to rest as Dame Sarah's attempt got underway. Heads began glancing between the 11-time Paralympic gold medallist and the big screens in the Velodrome, which flickered with the updated distance covered and remaining time she had left of the event.

Interviews with her coach and husband Barney and former professional cyclist Magnus Backstedt were also able to provide further insight into the attempt, while commentary coming through the loudspeakers around the venue were able to further engage the crowd in her progress.

Each milestone was met with loud cheers of encouragement as the event unfolded, with Dame Sarah three seconds above schedule required after 20 minutes before dipping below the pace at the halfway mark. With the sheer physical and mental effort to maintain the pace for the event clear to see, it was easy for the crowd to offer support.

However, despite Dame Sarah's best efforts, the existing record remains intact but International Cycling Union (UCI) President Brian Cookson, who was in attendance, offered his praise and claimed he was pleased that a woman taken on the event.

UCI President Brian Cookson praised Dame Sarah for her attempt ©Getty ImagesUCI President Brian Cookson praised Dame Sarah for her attempt ©Getty Images

Dame Sarah became the first woman to take on the record since the UCI's decision last May to allow aerodynamic bikes to be used in an attempt. It followed several attempts on the men's record since German Jens Voigt reignited interest when he set a new distance last September.

Australia's Rohan Dennis is the new holder of the men's record, however, German three world time trial champion Tony Martin and 2012 Tour de France winner Sir Bradley Wiggins are scheduled to hold attempts in the future. With the two predicted to set a new distance, there is the potential the men's record could be put out of sight for the foreseeable future.

If so, could the women's record take on even more significance, with Dame Sarah's narrow miss proving Leontien Zijlaard-van Moorsel's record is achievable and have the Voigt-effect with her attempt encouraging more women to take on the challenge. With Joanna Rowsell, a British Olympic team pursuit champion, rumoured to be considering a bid at the record after Rio 2016, could it become the one to watch.

Michael Pavitt is a junior reporter for insidethegames. To follow him on Twitter click here