Britain’s Sarah Storey will be the first woman to attempt the world hour record since the rules were updated in May of this year. She will make her attempt on February 28 at the Lee Valley VeloPark in London, according to the UCI.
The current women’s record is held by Leontien Zijlaard-van Moorsel, who rode 46.065km in Mexico City in 2003. That record was set under the old Athlete’s Hour rules, which required that equipment and position emulate those used by Eddy Merckx for his successful record attempt in 1972. Storey will be allowed to use any bike and position legal under current endurance track racing regulations, providing her with a significant aerodynamic advantage.
Storey has won six gold medals in cycling at the Paralympics, in addition to five gold, eight silver, and three bronze medals won in swimming, making her Great Britain’s most decorated female Paralympian. The 37-year-old was born without a functioning left hand and also competes against able-bodied athletes on the track.
“I’m excited and nervous at the prospect of being the first woman to take on the record in over a decade,” Storey said. “I did a couple of days’ testing up at the Manchester Velodrome to try and work out the output that would be involved over an hour to have a realistic chance of challenging the record, and we decided that if I can arrive in good shape I stood a fighting chance. Logistically it fits in just about perfectly with the plans I already had put in place for next year which center around the UCI Para-cycling Track World Championships at the end of March — when I will be entering the individual pursuit, 500m time trial and scratch race.”
UCI President Brian Cookson, who pushed for the modernization of the UCI’s hour record rules, was pleased that the women’s record would be tackled. “In amending the regulations, the UCI hoped for exactly this kind of motivation from the world’s best athletes,” Cookson said. “Dame Sarah Storey’s attempt will be eagerly awaited, and I am sure it will prompt other top women riders to try to claim this prestigious record.”
Fellow British athlete Alex Dowsett has made no secret of his desire to tackle the men’s record, and Cycling Weekly reported last week that the Movistar professional may make also make his attempt at the same Revolution Series event in February.
Since the UCI updated its hour record regulations, two men have successfully broken the record. Jens Voigt set a mark of 51.11km in September, which was quickly surpassed by IAM Cycling’s Matthias Brändle with a distance of 51.852km.
On Sunday, Molly Shaffer Van Houweling set an American hour record on the track in California, riding 44.173km.