American cyclist Molly Shaffer Van Houweling has broken the women’s UCI Hour Record – covering 46.273 km in 60 minutes, at the Velodrome Bicentenario in Aguascalientes, Mexico.
The 41-year-old Law Professor, who already held the American Hour Record, had set up a Kickstarter crowdfunding page to allow her to livestream the attempt.
Eight men have attempted the record since the UCI relaxed the rules in May 2014 – starting with Jens Voigt and more recently Bradley Wiggins in June. Funnily enough, we caught most of their attempts on Eurosport.
The Kickstarter page raised $5,906 – and every contributor of $25 will soon receive a “Team Tortuga” temporary tattoo symbolizing Van Houweling love of deceptively speedy turtles (called tortugas in Mexico). Her approach to riding the hour was to maintain a steady pace throughout, mirroring one of her inspirations, Alex Dowsett.
The previous record, set by Dutch rider Leontien Zijlaard-van Moorsel, has stood for 12 years at 46.065km. Van Houweling was the second female rider to have a pop at the record since the rule change.
The first women’s attempt since the rule change was made by Dame Sarah Storey in February this year. Though she achieved a Paralympic Record, she fell 563 metres short of the UCI World title.
Van Houweling, previously a sychronized swimmer, runner and triathlete, entered her first bike race aged 30. She actually covered a distance of 46.088 – 23 metres over the previous record – in July this year, but she had not been part of the Athlete Biological Passport (ABP) anti-doping test pool long enough for the record to qualify for the UCI record.
A five time UCI Amateur Road World Champion, Van Houweling combines her training with a job as law professor at the University of California and is also a co-founder of the Authors Alliance and Board Member at Creative Commons.
The attempt started at 7.45pm, 15 minutes after the planned start time due to temperatures outside the velodrome. After the attempt, Van Houweling said: “You never know if everything is going to come together on race day. Everyday this week I was thinking, ‘Am I going to be 100 percent? Does my knee hurt? Am I getting the sniffles? Is it too hot? Or too cold?’ I feel fortunate that everything came together today and that I felt in control. I am relieved that everything came together and thankful for everyone that helped me make this –and this live feed – happen.”
UCI President Brian Cookson commented: “Molly’s performance is splendid. It is a blessing for all those who wanted the rebirth of the UCI Hour Record. This will also remain as a milestone in American cycling history. Less than one week from the kick-off of the UCI Road World Championships in Richmond, Virginia, Molly’s performance shows how vibrant our sport is in this part of the world.”
Watch the attempt in full:
Learn more about the Hour with our interview with Dame Sarah Storey: In Conversation with Dame Sarah Storey Ahead of UCI Hour Record Attempt