Talent and, above all, hard work and perseverance remain key to achieving sporting success. But in many sports today, thanks to increasingly advanced technology, technical materials, and scientific research into athletic training and nutrition, beating records is also a question of details: a lot of tiny adjustments, strategies and tools that help athletes shave seconds off their times, shorten or lengthen distances by a whisker.
A very recent example of this is provided by Belgian cyclist Victor Campenaerts, who on 16 April broke one of the discipline’s most coveted records – the one-hour world record – which for over a century has tried and tested some of the greatest cyclists in history.
Devised by the French journalist Henri Desgrange, who also launched the Tour de France, the hour record has been in existence since 1893 and consists of a high-speed race against the clock, the aim being to cover the longest distance possible on a cycling track in 60 minutes.
Campenaerts, who set off at exactly 6 p.m. in the Aguascalientes Bicentenary Velodrome in Mexico, covered a distance of 55.089 kilometres, beating the previous record set in 2015 by a mere 563 metres.
«It gives me great satisfaction to see that all these months of preparation have been rewarded. Today, everything fell into place. The whole of the Lotto Soudal CyclingTeam [his team, ed.] supported me in this endeavour, which obviously put me under a lot of pressure but at the same time spurred me on to do something special», said the champion, who was able to count on the support of a pair of special shoes, developed together with the Italian brand Gaerne.
Based in Coste di Maser, in the province of Treviso, and specialising in technical footwear, Gaerne produced – with input from Campenaerts – a pair of custom-made shoes and socks designed to enhance aerodynamic performance.
«These shoes are extremely comfortable – I wore them recently to win the Tirreno- Adriatico* time trial and have every intention of using them again in forthcoming time trials», said the 28-year-old Belgian, now the fastest cyclist in the world.
*race run between the Tyrrhenian and Adriatic coasts