A law professor from California will next month attempt to do what Dame Sarah Storey couldn’t manage earlier this year and break the women’s version of the UCI Hour Record. What’s more, Molly Shaffer Van Houweling has already gone further than the existing record – but in a ride that does not qualify under UCI rules.
Unlike Storey, who had her tilt at the record in London earlier this year, the 42-year-old Van Houweling will be attempting it at altitude at the Velodromo Bicentenario in Aguascalientes, Mexico, scheduled for 12 September.
That’s the same country where, in 2013, Dutch rider Leontien Zijlaard-van Moorsel set the current benchmark of 46.065 kilometres in Mexico City.
Multiple Paralympic champion Storey, aged 36, is the only woman to have officially tried to break the record since the UCI changed the rules last year to allow up-to-date track bikes and equipment, riding 45.502km at the Lee Valley VeloPark in February.
Van Houweling had already gone further than that just days beforehand, putting in a distance of 45.637 kilometres at Aguascalientes, taking her within two laps of van Moorsel’s record.
However, that did not qualify as an attempt on the UCI Hour Record, because the American was not at the time enrolled in the athlete biological passport programme. Cyclists attempting the record need to have belonged to it for at least six months.
That ride, however, convinced the five-time amateur world champion, who last year set a new US record of 44.173 kilometres, that it was worth the effort and expense to sign up to it ahead of making an official attempt.
During her preparations for next month’s assault on van Moorsel’s record, she has actually ridden further than the Dutch woman did 12 years ago, riding her bike 46.088 kilometres at Aguascalientes during July.
While Storey is a full-time athlete who has won 11 Paralympic gold medals in swimming and cycling – she switched sports in 2005 – Van Houweling cycles in her spare time from her work as Professor of Law and Associate Dean at the University of California, Berkeley.
“I am delighted that another athlete will make an attempt on the women’s UCI Hour Record,” said UCI president Brian Cookson.
“Last December, Molly Shaffer Van Houweling broke the US Hour Record, which had stood for 24 years. It will be very exciting to see what she can achieve in her attempt at the World Record.”
Van Houweling said: “It is an honour and an immense challenge to take on the most epic record in all of cycling.
“I have had several opportunities to ride on the track in Aguascalientes, and I know that it is a fantastic facility.
“Mexico has a special place in the UCI Hour Record history, as the site of records by Eddy Merckx, Jeannie Longo, and Leontien van Moorsel. I hope my upcoming attempt will be part of that proud history,” she added.
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Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.
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