Victor Campenaerts (Lotto-Soudal) says he rode the final five minutes of his successful UCI Hour Record attempt on “sheer will,” covering a lot of useless metres and not riding the perfect lines he had earlier on his way to breaking Wiggins’ 2015 record.
Describing the trials and tribulations of his attempt, Campenaerts said: “Already after 10 to 15 minutes, I had the feeling that it would be possible to break the record. It was super hard, I was a bit optimistic in the first 30 minutes and then I said myself I had to slow down a bit the pace, but even with that I think I was faster than Wiggins in all parts.
“At the end, it was close to reach the magical boundary of 55 kilometres. Between 15 and 10 minutes before the end I was struggling, but because of the adrenaline rush you’re able to push that little bit harder. You know what’s at stake and that makes it a little easier.
“The goal before the attempt was of course to break the Hour Record, which was also a realistic goal. I maybe started a bit too optimistic but then I slowed down a bit and searched for a new pace that I could hold. At the end, I still had a difficult moment. I did not ride the perfect lines that I did in the beginning.”
The Belgian hailed his team, who supported him at the Velodromo Bicentenario in Aguascalientes, Mexico on Tuesday evening, saying it created the “necessary pressure” to perform but also “motivated me even more to make it something special”.
UCI president David Lappartient congratulated Campenaerts, saying: “Well done to Victor, who had an amazing ride and showed his consistency from the start right through to the end of his attempt, a key factor in his success. This latest feat is excellent news for our legendary event, which has attracted renewed interest among both male and female riders since we changed our rules.”
The rule change Lappartient mentions is a 2014 regulation amendment which now allows competitors to use the latest pursuit bikes. Since the change, 11 men and six women have attempted the Hour Record, with Jens Voigt being the first under the new rules in 2014, followed by Matthias Brändle, Rohan Dennis and Alex Dowsett all setting new world records before Wiggins’ successful attempt in 2015.
Campenaerts set a distance of 55.089km in his hour, beating the 54.526km record of Bradley Wiggins set in 2015 in London by 563 metres.
He raced the first 10km four seconds faster than Wiggins, riding around 16.2 seconds per 250m lap in the first 20 minutes, then drifting out to between 16.3 and 16.45 seconds for the remainder of the hour, enough to beat Wiggins.
Asked how he will celebrate, the 27-year-old said: “A party? Of course I will have a beer or two, but I’m still a professional!”