Victor Campenaerts will race with Classified's Powershift drivetrain and a huge chainring

Road 23/02/23 10:00 Migue A.

The Belgian rider is once again a pioneer when it comes to incorporating new material on his bike to face the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad with a radical setup in which he rides a 62t single chainring configuration. The secret to move it: he has changed the front derailleur for the Classified Powershift rear hub in order to have a gearing soft enough to face the hard walls that mark the Flemish classic.

Classified's Powershift rear hubs make their debut on the World Tour

It's not often that you see riders incorporating new equipment that goes outside of the standard team bike setups. However, Lotto-Dstny rider Victor Campenaerts, one of the pros most concerned with the gains that equipment can offer him in a race, has done it again.

If in previous years he surprised us on several occasions, as when he was one of the first cyclists to start using one-piece suits in road races, something that today is commonplace; or when he was a pioneer in using super-narrow handlebars and rotating the levers inwards to achieve a more aerodynamic position, now a trend in most peloton bikes.

The use of a single chainring drivetrain, looking for a simpler configuration on his bike that, on the one hand, allows him a small aerodynamic gain and, on the other hand, reduces the chances of chain slippage on the difficult terrain of the cobblestones, is not a novelty for Victor Campenaerts. He already used a bike with this configuration in some classics last year, for which he chose a 58-tooth chainring.

This time, Campenaerts has gone a step further and opted for a monstrous and unusual 62-tooth chainring. From the design that could be seen in the spy photos during the training sessions prior to the Het Niewsblad, from the firm Alugear, as Shimano, supplier of the groupsets for the Lotto-Dstny bikes after ending its collaboration with Campagnolo, did not have such a huge one.

Obviously, the question arises as to how Victor Campenaerts will be able to move such a brutal gearing. Remember that the Shimano Dura-Ace has an 11-34 as the most open cassette option, which would give him a softer gearing equivalent to a 39x21, something movable for a professional cyclist but impractical in today's cycling.

The solution to have plenty of range has been to mount a rear wheel with the Powertshift hub, Classified's proposal to do away with the dual chainring on road bikes and whose internal gearing offers two gear ratios: a direct 1 to 1 and another, equivalent to a hypothetical small chainring, of 1 to 0.686, which, virtually, would be as if it had a second 42.5-tooth second chainring.

Using the Classified hub forces Campenaerts to fit this brand's specific cassette which, like Shimano, has a softer 11-34 gearing. A 42x34 is more than enough gearing for a pro rider on the short Flemish walls while, at the same time, it has a tremendously long gearing at the other end for the very high speed at which these races are ridden and that can be a plus when looking for his options on favorable terrain or in a headwind.

The other major advantage is that the use of a single chainring reduces the chances of the chain slipping off with the constant pounding of cobblestones even though the Shimano Dura-Ace rear derailleur has no clutch system to reduce chain movement on uneven terrain as does its rival SRAM, originally designed to accommodate this drivetrain configuration.

In addition to the availability of chainrings of that size from Shimano, Victor Campenaerts chose the Alugear one because it is a specific chainring for single chainring drivetrains, that is, with a specific toothing to hold the chain firmly on it, without the ramps and rivets that facilitate shifting on conventional chainrings. In addition, to reduce the possibility of chain slippage to practically zero, the Belgian cyclist has mounted a K-Edge chain guide on his bike.

What has a worse solution is what can happen in case of a flat tyre, especially in a type of race where the team car is often far away in the decisive moments. There is no problem when it comes to replacing the wheel with the neutral assistance or the helpers waiting after the cobbled sections with one with a conventional hub, but, obviously, if this happens, Campenaerts would lose the change in the hub, being left only with the direct combination offered by the 62-tooth chainring.

What there is no doubt is that once again, Victor Campenaerts is not afraid to innovate, in this case, taking advantage of the collaboration between Classified and Ridley, a brand that has been supplying the Lotto-Dstny structure for years and that has in its range several gravel models that already mount Powertshift hubs. If we take into account the subsequent popularization of some of the Belgian rider's crazy rides, do you think that Classified hubs will become common?



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Victor Campenaerts competirá con la transmisión Powershift de Classified y un inmenso plato