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Alberto Contador's Everesting record shattered by an amateur

Joe Robinson
31 Jul 2020

Ronan McLaughlin of County Donegal sets a new best time of 7 hours, 4 minutes and 41 seconds

Seven-time Grand Tour champion Alberto Contador's Everesting record has been obliterated by amateur Irish rider Ronan McLaughlin.

The 33-year-old County Donegal-raised rider shaved more than 20 minutes off of El Pistelero's record, setting a new benchmark of 7 hours, 4 minutes and 41 seconds, a time that has been verified by Everesting creators and regulators Hells 500.

In a mighty effort, Mclaughlin chose the climb of Mamore Gap in the very northern tip of the Republic to attempt the record.

It was a climb he had already previously Everested on, two weeks prior, with a time of 8 hours, 13 minutes. This time, however, the Irishman opted to repeat a shorter segment of the overall climb for his effort.

To get the necessary 8,848m of vertical ascent, Mclaughlin repeated an 810m section of the climb that averaged 14 per cent and allowed him to tick off 117m of elevation with every repetition. Riding the climb 62.5 times, he was able to average 17.4kmh with a max speed of 86.4kmh, helped by the fact the climb was dead straight.

Beating a former Grand Tour winner uphill is no mean feat and expectedly, McLaughlin's power numbers impressed too. His weighted power for the entire effort was 290W – according to the Strava file – with a max power output of 703W.

McLaughlin also relied on a tricked out climber's bike for the record, too. He used a stripped-down Specialized S-Works Tarmac SL6 rim-braked bike, a 1x groupset with just three gears, the smallest gear being 39/32t, no bottle cages and sawn-off handlebar drops.

Admittedly, McLaughlin is no average amateur. In fact, he is a former pro rider, having ridden for Sean Kelly's An Post-Chain Reaction team between 2008 and 2013, racing the 2012 Road World Championships alongside Dan Martin and Nico Roche, and who now works as a full-time coach.

But to say he is on a similar level to a rider like Contador would be a push, something that McLaughlin himself admits. Although talking to CyclingTips after the effort, he did argue that the right preparation and dedication can make any rider world-class for one day.

'I in no way consider myself on the same level as Contador but I once heard Chris Boardman say that when he was trying to break the Hour Record on Eddy Merckx rules, that everybody can be world-class on their day and their discipline, 'said McLaughlin.

'That was sort of my goal here – to prove that no matter if you’ve won two Tours de France or not, if you apply yourself and use all the marginal gains or science or whatever you want to call it, and train right, then anybody can be world-class… If only for one day'

McLaughin's efforts were also for a good cause, raising money for Ireland's Community Rescue Service, a search and rescue group operating in Northern Ireland which you can check out here.

McLaughlin now joins Emma Pooley, who has the women's Everesting record in a time of 8 hours, 53 minutes, 36 seconds.

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