‘You’d risk becoming deathly ill’: Victor Campenaerts takes altitude training to a new extreme

Don’t try this at home

(Image credit: Yuzuru SUNADA)

Victor Campenaerts has already been pushing himself to the limit in preparation for the return of racing, but his latest regime takes things to the extreme.

Last month, Campenaerts revealed he was sleeping at 4,700 metres above sea level using an altitude mask, in order to “feel like like a rider who took EPO.”

But the reigning Hour Record holder has taken the altitude training to an even higher level, with sport scientists warning amateurs not to try it at home, Belgian newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws reports.

Campenaerts has spent an hour at 10,000 meters altitude using his mask, depleting himself of oxygen to stimulate the production of red blood cells.

The method is known as ‘intermittent hypoxic exposure,’ often used by mountaineers and athletes.

But Belgian time trial star Campenaerts is able to push his body even further than most , as even climbers preparing to scale Everest (8,800m above sea level) only stay at 10,000m for just a few minutes.

Campenaerts has oxygen saturation levels at 4,700m that other people would have at around 2,500m, according to sports physician Ruud Van Thienen.

The doctor said: “You and I can't keep that up for a minute.

“So don't do this if you are not professionally guided, because you risk becoming deathly ill. ”

For pros, altitude camps are essential both to prepare for races that enter the high mountains and also to improve oxygen efficiency for events like time trials.

But due to the global spread of coronavirus, altitude camps have been non-existent in 2020 with riders forced to find other ways of adapting their training.

Campenaerts had been targeting the Giro d’Italia in May as he is still in search of his first Grand Tour stage victory.

The NTT Pro Cycling rider his been knocking on the door of a major victory for the last few seasons, finishing third in the Worlds TT in 2018 and narrowly missing out on victory twice during last year’s Giro.

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But last year he proved his abilities by setting a new Hour Record, riding 55.089km to beat the record previously set by Sir Bradley Wiggins.

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