A retired professional cyclist has smashed a Strava KOM in the Himalayas – on a road that tops out at an altitude of 5,359 metres, just over twice the height of the highest point of this year’s Tour de France, the Col du Galibier.
Former Bora-Argon 18 rider Bartosz Huzarski, aged 37, had to combat snowstorms, an unrelenting 5 per cent gradient over 40 kilometres, the final 10 kilometres of which was on dirt roads and oxygen deprivation on his way to claiming the KOM on the climb of the Khardung La in India.
The Polish rider, who swapped his road bike for a mountain bike for the event, had been challenged to tackle the ascent by Škoda along with three other riders for the Czech car manufacturer’s Catching Breath project, showcased on its We Love Cycling website.
The company supplied two support vehicles, one of which showed the pacing of the former KOM holder on the climb, the Austrian rider Christoph Kluge.
Huzarski, who took 2 hours, 36 minutes and 16 seconds to ride the climb, beat Kluge’s record by almost half an hour and one of his riding companions, Eva Lindskog from Sweden, also got within the Austrian’s and holds the QOM on the ascent.
“From the mental side it was really hard, you know there’s not much oxygen; every move you spend extra energy so I was mostly sitting on the bike,” said Huzarski.
“And approaching 5,000 metres it wasn’t even possible to stand up. There was so little oxygen.”
Besides the video above of the cyclists taking on the ascent, Škoda has also produced a 25-minute documentary showcasing the riders’ preparations and their acclimatisation to the Himalayan environment, and there is also a wealth of information about the project on the We Love Cycling website.
Huzarski’s final verdict? “Never, ever again.”
Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.