Victor Campenaerts has set Strava's fastest ascent of the iconic Coll de Rates (opens in new tab) mountain in Spain, beating the previous record set by Tadej Pogačar by 13 seconds.
Maintaining an average gradient of 6.6 per cent on a 9.7 kilometre route, Coll de Rates featured most recently on the 2021 Vuelta a España, has 645 metres of climbing, and is often cited as a staple for cyclists when in the Costa Blanca region of Spain.
On January 9, Tadej Pogačar completed the climb in 24 minutes 50 seconds, shocking followers on Strava with his monstrous output on the mountain. Campenaerts has perhaps shocked cycling fans even more, though, by beating him on February 12 by posting a time of 24-37.
The Belgian, who is currently preparing for the Classics by staying in specially furnished hotel rooms that mimic the effect of an altitude training course in Calpe, produced a power meter averaging 413W and took Strava's KOM award for his effort too.
Meanwhile in Spain... 🇪🇸@VCampenaerts going all out and record hunting on the infamous Coll de Rates ⏱️⛰️ pic.twitter.com/bhDBnWJqOgFebruary 13, 2022
Despite this, Campenaerts isn't a rider known for his climbing, putting into perspective how much faster Pogačar could potentially go when in top form. After all, the Hour Record holder's average heart rate reached a ridiculous 192bpm during the climb, while the two-time Tour de France winner completed the mountain ascent 85 miles into a ride early in pre-season.
Campenaerts told Het Laatste Nieuws: “During the climb I went full throttle. I had an average heart rate of 195. When I got to the top, our doctor said I looked more tired than after my World Hour Record.
“I definitely don't want to think or say I'm a good climber right now. Let alone a tour racer. I analysed Tadej's effort well and he lost a lot of time on a gravel strip, which he probably didn't know well. There I made the difference and on the steep sections uphill I held up well, but I am sure that if Tadej wants, he can certainly take that KOM back, but for a good junior or newbie this will be impossible."
The Classics begin with Omloop Het Nieuwsblad on Saturday February 26, and Campenaerts is confident he has prepared well for the new season, as evidenced by his astounding Coll de Rates time. However, he isn't going to let himself get too carried away.
The Belgian added: “What's the point of this KOM? Not much. My trainer told me to do 20 kilometres 'all out' twice and then I chose that climb for the second part of the exercise. I had a good time and know that I am in good shape for the opening weekend. And the most important thing is that tonight I will go to sleep with a blissful feeling. The mental side is excellent.”
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Ryan is a staff writer for Cycling Weekly, having joined the team in September 2021. He first joined Future in December 2020, working across FourFourTwo, Golf Monthly, Rugby World and Advnture's websites, before making his way to cycling. After graduating from Cardiff University with a degree in Journalism and Communications, Ryan earned a NCTJ qualification to further develop as a writer.
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