Molly Shaffer Van Houweling has established a new women's UCI Hour Record after covering a distance of 46.274 kilometres in Aguascalientes, Mexico on Saturday evening.
The 41-year-old is the first woman to establish a new world hour record since the UCI altered the regulation to allow the use of time trial bikes in the discipline once again last season. Van Houweling broke Leontien Zijlaard-van Moorsel's 12-year-old record – established in Mexico City in 2003 – by 209 metres.
"You never know if everything is going to come together on race day," Van Houweling said. "Every day 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."
Van Houweling's first experience on the track only came at the end of last season, when she took to the boards following the relaxation of the UCI’s technical restrictions in order to set a new US women's hour record. Her mark of 44.173km, established in California in December encouraged her to take aim at Zijlaard-van Moorsel's longstanding record.
Indeed, Van Houweling already bettered Zijlaard-van Moorsel's mark in July, clocking 46.088 kilometres, but that effort did not count as an official record as the American was not part of the Biological Passport programme at the time.
The past year has been marked by a litany of hour record attempts. Sarah Storey fell short of the women's record early this season, while Jens Voigt, Matthias Brändle, Rohan Dennis and Alex Dowsett all held the men's hour record before Bradley Wiggins set the current benchmark of 54.526 kilometres in London in June.
"Molly's performance is splendid. It is a blessing for all those who wanted the rebirth of the UCI Hour Record," said UCI president Brian Cookson. "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."