One rider, one bike, one hour. On Tuesday afternoon Belgium’s Victor Campenaerts proved he had the engine and the precision to optimise the first two components and take the Hour Record title from former holder, Bradley Wiggins.
Campenaerts covered 55.089 kilometres in sixty minutes on the boards of the Aguascaliente velodrome in Mexico, bettering the record set by Wiggins by 563 metres.
The Lotto-Soudal rider completed his effort aboard a custom Ridley Arena track bike, built around the geometry of the Ridley Dean Fast time trial bike.
The ‘Flying Moustache’, a name chosen by Belgium fans in an online vote, sports custom extensions made to perfectly mirror the rider’s arms and a base bar at just 33cm. After all, Campenaerts wasn’t expecting to spend a second off of the extensions after the sound of the start gun.
Gearing options ahead of the attempt included a 59×14, 60×14, 61×14 or 63×15, so in the region of 124″ – though it’s unconfirmed which choice Campenaerts finally opted for.
The down tube featured an ‘F-Surface Plus’ textured surface, strategically placed to reduce drag.
It’s not just about the bike – every piece of kit was selected to reduce the grip of the Hour Record rider’s greatest enemy: drag.
Campenaerts wore a HJC Adwatt helmet, custom made and based upon 3D scans of his head, and he chose to forgo a visor. He said: “My aero performances improve without [a visor]. On top of that it offers me better cooling conditions, because you loose a lot of heat through your head.”
With the rider making up around 80 per cent of drag, what the body is wrapped in matters a lot. The skinsuit of choice came from Vermac, with short sleeves. A controversial choice, and one based largely on body temperature and comfort.
“The aero difference with long sleeves is really limited. Again I prefer to choose for optimised cooling conditions in temperatures around 30°C. Vermarc and I have put a lot of effort in this to get the fastest suit possible,” Campenaerts said.
Shoe covers are known to have a notable impact in reducing drag, but they’re prohibited in an Hour Record attempt.
Instead, Campenaerts went with Gaerne shoes, with a purpose designed rubber covering over a lace fastening system. These were paired with socks from the same brand.
“The standard of the shoe stayed the same, but we introduced lace fastening underneath the rubber which eliminates regular buttons to tighten the shoes around your feet. These new Gaerne shoes are faster than shoe covers, again against all odds, but also tested.
“They are very comfortable and I wore them during my recent Tirreno stage victory, so I will keep on using them in future road races”, the rider said.
Showing his true Belgian colours, Campenaerts opted for no gloves, bypassing a potential marginal gain with comfort at front of mind, once again.
“Aerodynamically the advantage of gloves is minimal. But it’s also a choice in favor of cooling conditions. Veins are running superficial around your wrists, so you’re able to lose heat very well there,” he said.