On January 22, Australian Bridie O’Donnell will attempt to break the UCI world hour record. To do so, the 41-year-old physician has to beat the 46.273 kilometres mark set by American Molly Shaffer van Houweling in September of last year. O’Donnell will make the attempt at Adelaide’s Super-Drome with a crowd of around 3,000 watching on, including UCI president Brian Cookson, in the midst of the Santos Tour Down Under.
We first spoke to the former Australian and Oceania time-trial champion in November to find out just what goes into taking on the record. Now that we are just days away from her attempt, we’re checking in with O’Donnell and the organisation to see how things are coming along.
The current state of play
There have been a stream of attempts on the UCI world hour record since the rules were relaxed in 2014 to allow the use of more modern technology. We have seen a new men’s record set five times in the past 14 months, with Bradley Wiggins setting a high bar of 54.526 kilometres.
The women also took to velodromes around the world in an attempt to break the record of 46.065 kilometres set by Dutchwoman Leontien van Moorsel that stood untouched for 12 years.
Dame Sarah Storey of England fell just shy in February 2015, however set a new para-cycling and masters (35-39) record. Shaffer van Houweling worked up to her successful attempt of 46.273 kilometres in September, taking the U.S. record first.
The current Australian women’s record holder is Anna Wilson, who set a mark of 43.501 kilometres in October of 2000. It was also the world record at the time but she only held the title for a matter of weeks as Jeannie Longo quickly topped the mark.
O’Donnell, a National Road Series rider and physician, has long been a comfortable time-trial contender on the road and took to the boards of the velodrome as she started to ramp up the physical preparation for her attempt. After a few test runs and meticulous groundwork from O’Donnell and the team around her, O’Donnell says she is feeling well on track.
“I feel like I will be ready on the 22nd that’s for sure,” said O’Donnell after finishing her final event at the Australian National Road Championships earlier this month, where her main aim was to help her teammates at Rush Women’s Team and get through the event unscathed.
Her initial test event was in Melbourne in late November.
“The first one was a big challenge, said O’Donnell. “I learned a lot of things and what to do differently and better next time. Even though I achieved the target that we went for it was pretty painful and difficult, mainly mentally … that was a really good lesson.”
The second test session was at the Super-Drome on December 19, on a day where the heat was intense.
“It was 44 degrees outside and 37 degrees inside, so it won’t be hotter than that, and I felt really quite good and I achieved the target that I went for. Everything went really well,” said O’Donnell.
The January 22 attempt was scheduled for when the Santos Tour Down Under was in town as that’s when cycling fans and the leaders of the sport converge on Adelaide. Organisers are hoping for a packed house at Adelaide’s Super-Drome on Friday.
The night starts with at 6 p.m. (ACDT) with a series of sprint races involving the Australian team headed by 11-time world champion Anna Meares and Matt Glaetzer. Then at 8 p.m. it is time for O’Donnell to give it her all for an hour.
It is likely to be a warm night on the track, with a top temperature of 31 degrees celsius forecast for Adelaide during the day.
How to follow the hour attempt
The attempt is scheduled to start at 8 p.m. ACDT on January 22.
To be a part of the action at the Super-Drome in Adelaide you can purchase general admission tickets at the door for $20 and reserve tickets inside the track are available for $50 through Cycling South Australia.
If you can’t be at the venue, the next best thing is to watch the live stream, made available through the UCI, right here on Ella.
To follow on social media keep an eye on #BridiesHour on Twitter.
Of course we will be covering the event on Ella so keep an eye on our social media channels and come to the site for our coverage after the event.
Come ride with us at Tour Down Under and support Bridie O’Donnell!
On the Friday night, January 22nd, the Ella and CyclingTips crew will be heading out to the Adelaide Super-Drome to cheer on long-term friend of CyclingTips, Bridie O’Donnell, in her attempt on the women’s hour record!
We’ll be heading out from the Cannondale Exhibition at The Gallery, 30 Weymouth St, and invite you to join us there at 5 p.m. for a drink and nibbles before we ride over to the Super-Drome at 6 p.m. to cheer on Bridie. The ride over will be approx 12 kms and don’t forget your lights as it will be dark on the way home!
Tickets for the hour record attempt are $20 and will be sold at the door.