• Bridie O'Donnell gets set to break the world hour record (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
Australian Bridie O' Donnell's world record goes on the line later this month when American Olympic cyclist Evelyn Stevens attempts to set a new milestone.
9 Feb 2016 - 11:08 AM  UPDATED 9 Feb 2016 - 11:14 AM

American Olympic cyclist Evelyn Stevens will attempt to break Australian Bridie O'Donnell's world hour record later this month at the US Olympic training centre in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

The distance travelled in an hour is one of the most hallowed challenges in cycling. But only in the past couple of years - since the sport's governing body, the UCI, modernised and simplified rules for an attempt - has the record received renewed interest from some of the world's best riders.

"While attempting to break the hour record is exciting for me and my career, I'm also proud to help shine a light on women's cycling," said Stevens, who will make her attempt on February 22.

The current record of 46.882 kms was set by O'Donnell in Adelaide on January 22. She broke the mark of 46.273 set by American rider Molly Shaffer Van Houweling last September.

Bridie O'Donnell sets UCI hour record
Australia's Bridie O'Donnell has broken the women's world hour record, riding 46.882km, eclipsing American Molly Shaffer Van Houweling's mark.

The previous women's record, set by Dutchwoman Leontien Van Moorsel, had stood since 2003.

"We are thrilled that Evie is attempting to break this very prestigious record here in the United States," said USA Cycling chief executive Derek Boucchard-Hall, who spearheaded the effort to add a dome at the training centre to provide American cyclists with a year-round facility.

"Having one of our top American athletes chase history under our new Olympic training centre velodome will be very special."

Riders have been chasing the hour record for decades. But over time they began to use such extreme bikes that the UCI adopted rules in 2000 to curtail the technology, creating in essence two different records: the hour record or "athlete's record," in which riders were required to use traditional bikes, and the "absolute record," which had fewer limits on equipment.

The rule change made the records so convoluted that few were willing to attempt it.

So in 2014, the UCI backtracked and created the "unified record," allowing riders to once again use modern track bikes with disc wheels and aerodynamic frames.

More than half a dozen riders have taken a shot at the men's record, including former Tour de France champion Bradley Wiggins, who established a new benchmark of 54.526 kilometres last June.

Stevens, a two-time time trial national champion who has finished on the podium twice at the world championships, will try to do the same on the women's side.