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Victor Campenaerts debuts Classified PowerShift hub and massive 62-tooth chainring at Omloop Het Nieuwsblad – but is still forced to walk up the Muur

The Belgian former Hour Record holder tested out the front derailleur-killing design on his way to 62nd at the Flemish semi-classic

The cobbled Belgian semi-classic Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, to many cycling fans, signals the start of the ‘real’ European road racing season (apologies to any warm-up stage races on the Med).

And while Dylan van Baarle and Lotte Kopecky both put down serious markers for the upcoming classics campaign with impressive solo victories, the 2023 edition of Omloop may prove most memorable for the WorldTour debut of an innovative, and intriguing, piece of equipment.

Former Hour Record holder Victor Campenaerts, a longstanding proponent of unusually large chainrings, super-wide tyres, and narrow, turned-in handlebars, is well-known for his technological experimentation.

But the Belgian Lotto-Dstny rider has decided to up the ante for 2023, becoming the first rider to race using Classified’s PowerShift rear hub since Uno-X tested the potentially ground-breaking front derailleur-killing design last year – and deciding to pair it with an absolutely huge 62-tooth chainring.

Reviewed by last year, Classified’s internally geared system allows for a single-chainring setup (1x) with all of the benefits of a double (2x) setup, and none of the drawbacks of either, providing the rider with aero and efficiency gains derived from a single, large chainring up front.

Inside the rear hub is a two-speed gear system that gives the rider 100 per cent of whatever chainring that has been fitted, and then a reduction gear of around 70 per cent of that chainring, which essentially does the job of the ‘missing’ smaller chainring, basically creating the effect of having the front derailleur hidden away in the rear hub.

> Review: Classified Powershift Kit & Wheelset

Campenaert’s startlingly huge 62T setup – only two teeth off Filippo Ganna’s Hour Record chainring – means the 31-year-old took on the cobbled bergs of Flanders today effectively using a 62/42.5 setup, but with the aero and drivetrain advantages (the bigger the chainring, the less friction created, and therefore less energy expended by the rider) associated with a large 1x system, as well reducing the likelihood of the chain dropping thanks to the K-Edge chain catcher.

What about punctures? Surely if Victor gets too many then his day is done, because the team can't carry a whole other set of Classified-compatible wheels... and wouldn't it all need re-pairing? 

Not so, points out David Bavin-Hobbs of Classified, who told "Lotto DSTNY do carry spare Classified wheels for all of Victor’s races, as do the neutral service cars.

"If Victor gets a puncture then it would be just as easy as any team to switch a wheel over. It is the thru-axle that is paired to the shifter, not the wheel. So like any team, the mechanic would remove the thru-axle (actually faster because you don’t need a tool), switch the wheel and put the same thru-axle back in. There is no more pairing needed."

The Lotto-Dstny team car was also spotted with a second bike fitted with the same Classified 62T setup, so Campenaerts was guaranteed wheel changes as quick as any of his teammates either way, according to Classified. 

Combined with his narrow, turned-in hoods and very wide Vittoria Corsa Pros (the Belgian was rumoured to be riding a 30mm front and 32mm rear tyre setup), Campenaerts’ Ridley Noah Fast was sure to prompt a few raised eyebrows at today’s start line in Gent.

So, how did he fare on his wacky new setup?

Victor Campenaerts, 2023 Omloop Het Niuewsblad (GCN)

Victor (middle, in the red) putting those 62 teeth to good use

Well, the 31-year-old certainly looked sprightly as the race began to heat up towards the finish, and briefly put in a dig alongside Stefan Küng on the tough, cobbled Molenberg with just over 40km to go.

However, while the Belgian’s precocious 20-year-old teammate Arnaud De Lie was able to win the sprint for second behind Van Baarle – despite having to chase back on after a nasty crash and attacking in the closing kilometres (in short, the boy’s one to watch) – Campenaerts was eventually foiled by one of the cobbled classics’ oldest tricks.

Victor Campenaerts, walking up the Muur at 2023 Omloop Het Niuewsblad (GCN)

We’ve all been there…

On the slippery cobbled slopes of the Muur van Geraardsbergen, a good old-fashioned compression forced several riders, including Campenaerts, to clip out and walk their bikes to the top, with the Belgian eventually coming home in 62nd.

It just goes to show – no matter how fancy and ground-breaking your bike is, and how many teeth you have on your chainring, we all have to get off and push sometimes…

Ryan joined in December 2021 and since then has kept the site’s readers and listeners informed and enthralled (well at least occasionally) on news, the live blog, and the Podcast. After boarding a wrong bus at the world championships and ruining a good pair of jeans at the cyclocross, he now serves as’s senior news writer. Before his foray into cycling journalism, he wallowed in the equally pitiless world of academia, where he wrote a book about Victorian politics and droned on about cycling and bikes to classes of bored students (while taking every chance he could get to talk about cycling in print or on the radio). He can be found riding his bike very slowly around the narrow, scenic country lanes of Co. Down.

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mikewood | 1 year ago

They still seem to have the same restriction on lower ratio that is forced on a front derailleur by the ability to shift between the two rings.

Shimano call this at 16t or 17t on GRX so you get 50/34  or 48/31 etc but surely you could make the difference even bigger so you could go to something like 60/35 for racing or even 50/25 for mortals on gravel bikes

peted76 | 1 year ago

I'm pleased to see the classified hubs being used in a big race such as this.. I wonder what Campenaerts construcive feedback was like afterwards... I mean you'd like to think that this wasn't a paid for introduction to the pro-ranks.. but you can never be sure.

Mario Jr. | 1 year ago

Well, the writer has got it wrong. The hub is not paired to the shifter. The axle is, as it's where all the electronics are... 

So it's as easy to switch wheels as with any other system. You just need to use the same axle.

Rendel Harris replied to Mario Jr. | 1 year ago

Yes, it says as much in's own review of the system:


 The wheels use 12x100 and 12x142mm thru-axles, the rear being the one that receives the shift signal and then actuates the shift. The axle houses a 1-watt motor, which is rather tiny, but uses the wheel's movement to actually change gear.

srchar | 1 year ago

Surely in the event of a puncture, they put him on the spare bike, then swap the punctured wheel over and pair it with the controller after Campenaerts has ridden off on the spare, so that he can swap back if he punctures again? Two punctures and you're out isn't a risk a team or rider would want to take.

check12 | 1 year ago

Ah so he went for the 62 to have a ish 42 inner ring. It's an interesting system but can't see it catching on much outside of any sponsored riders 

IanEdward | 1 year ago

What is with the constant parroting of the 'front derailleur killing' line?

It's nonsense, a £2,000 hub gear system with proprietary cassette and hub will never 'kill' the £49 front mech, no matter how ridiculous prices of electric gears are becoming.

And I say that as someone who actually quite likes the look of the Classified system. Perhaps if they gave me one for free I'd be willing to pick up the party line 🙄

Xenophon2 replied to IanEdward | 1 year ago

Well, I purchased one from my own hard earned cash and wouldn't want to go back.  But I ride gravel, not road.

The 2k also gets you a decent wheelset, btw, not honest to compare it to 'a 49 quid front derailleur' and I do suspect that most people who read this article use a front derailleur that costs a tidy bit more than 49 GBP.

I was a very early adopter and paid the price for that (some kinks in the initial production runs) but am still very satisfied.  When signing at the dotted line, one of my concerns was that if ever the company behind it were to fold, the system was essentially a writeoff.  But it looks like it's there to stay.

IanEdward replied to Xenophon2 | 1 year ago
1 like

Yes fair point, a Di2 Ultegra front mech is £180 (you can buy mechanical Ultegra FD for anywhere between £30 and £50 it would appear).

So that leaves £1820 for a decent wheelset and you're not restricted to proprietary parts etc. etc.

I'm honestly not knocking the Classified system, just the idea that we would somehow all abandon the front derailleur for it.

Recoveryride replied to Xenophon2 | 1 year ago

I looked at this quite hard, and had a test ride. I was impressed and was tempted, but several things put me off:

1. Like you, I was concerned about the company folding (though so far, so good for them).

2. The virtual FD switch gives no sign of which virtual ring you're in; why they can't make it a rocker I don't know

3. I'd really like to run it with AXS, including a 10-33 cassette, but you're tied into Classified's cassettes, which start at 11t (and you also can't mod AXS   shifters to activate the system, unlike Di2)

4. Being tied into Classified's own brand wheels (I see that's now changing)

5. Last but not least, the cost. In real terms, it was adding ~1k to an 'electronic plus mid level wheels' build, and I just couldn't justify that kind of outlay. I suspect that in 2 years or 3, the price will have fallen a bit, and it will be more appealing.

They seem to be going strong, you can now get 3rd party wheels with the system, and I understand that the activation switch, as well as AXS integration, are actively being looked at. So if they could just pull that price down a (fair) bit...

Xenophon2 replied to Recoveryride | 1 year ago
1 like

I combine it with Rival AXS.  Contrary to Campenaerts, my ring is a 42-T  3   But as I said, I ride gravel not road (except for the commute but that doesn't count).  BTW, I rode up the Geraardsbergen wall where he had to dismount, easy peasy.  The only difficulty is that when wet, those terraced cobblestones become very slippery and when riding in a group, someone will always  lose traction or dismount and when your speed drops there, you're done. 

The shift 'blip' is a compromise. I'm used to it now but indeed, sometimes you lose track of which 'ring' you're in.  As you say, a rocker switch would be better.  Still, it's almost magic that in a blink of an eye and under full load, you can immediately hit that 'bail out' button when confronted with a sudden climb.  I've had more than one guy exclaim 'F* me, how do you manage this on that 11-32!?'.  

Third party wheels that come ready-built are very nice and I read on their site that they're also going to introduce a MTB-version with cassettes adapted to that.  Wait and see.  The price, yeah...I can see how that would put people off but otoh, the current cost of my bike is about 7.5k Euro.  I guess about 1k is the surplus cost of the Classified system so in the big scheme of things and for a vehicle that I use every single day....but that's obviously something everyone should decide for him/herself.

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