DAVID STOCKMANGetty Images
- Victor Campenaerts set a new UCI hour record on Tuesday, covering 55.089K.
- He beat the previous record of 54.526K, set by Bradley Wiggins in 2015.
- Campenaerts raced at the Aguascalientes velodrome in Mexico, which sits at an altitude of 1,800 meters.
Victor Campenaerts set a new one-hour world record for distance covered on a cycling track on Tuesday, edging past the previous record set by British great and 2012 Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins.
The Belgian time-trial champion established the new record at the Aguascalientes velodrome in Mexico, covering 55.089K (about 34.23 miles) in an hour. He narrowly beat the previous record of 54.526K set in June 2015.
“I broke the magic 55K,” the exhausted 27-year-old said after bettering Wiggins’s mark by 563 meters. “I was too optimistic at first, and after half an hour I needed to set a new, slower pace. I worked long and hard for this, and the team was right behind me, and now I paid them back.”
Several previous attempts to break the record had failed, although Campenaerts raced under slightly different conditions than those faced by the track-trained Wiggins—most notably, the Aguascalientes velodrome’s 1,800-meter altitude, where the thin air is less resistant aerodynamically.
Watch the livestream of Campenaerts’s record-setting ride:
UCI rules state that any attempt to beat the one-hour record must use a regulation track bike, and the athlete must be part of the biological passport doping control program.
Pundits suggested, however, that the altitude alone could have given Campenaerts up to a 1,500-meter advantage on Wiggins. That said, no hour record has previously been set at the Aguascalientes.
In his two weeks in Mexico, Campenaerts had been sleeping in conditions simulating a 3,000-meter altitude, a tactic meant to increase the red blood cell count to more efficiently deliver oxygen throughout the body.
Campenaerts’s bike was constructed to his requirements without gears or brakes for weight, and with a straight handlebar for aerodynamics. His frame also ensured he could take an identical riding position to his usual road style.
Winner of the recent time trial at the one-week Tirreno-Adriatico, Campenaerts is the double European time-trial champion and placed third at the 2018 world championships behind Rohan Dennis and Tom Dumoulin.
The track at Aguascalientes was built from Philadelphia fired oak and has steep 48-degree banks, while the roof is an inflated wind-proof tarpaulin, creating ideal conditions for the highest speeds.