On 21 June 2021 Tour de France Champion Egan Bernal got an email from Strava informing him that someone had just stolen one of his prized KOM records, one he held for three years.  

Two-time UCI Gran Fondo World Champion Raúl Portillo, who was suspended for EPO use after winning the 2018 World Championships, had taken Bernal’s KOM record on Col de Beixalis in Andorra. 

The the 48 year-old amateur Portillo, who was suspended from competition by the Basque Anti-Doping Agency (AVA) in 2019, didn’t just narrowly beat Bernal’s time up the category 2 Beixalis climb, he obliterated it, along with results from some of the sport’s best climbers, including Robert Gesink and Esteban Chavez.

That is what Portillo hopes people will believe, supported only by power data posted to Strava.

Portillo claims to have completed the 8.78km climb at an average gradient of 5.9% in 26:16, 42 seconds and 0.5kph faster than Bernal, who set the record in 2018 just after he won the Tour of California while in peak form.

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Countless amateur riders have gone to great lengths over the years to convince people that they are better than they actually are. Often that involves taking banned drugs. In 2016 another Strava cyclist, 36 year-old American Nicholas Brandt-Sorenson, who held more than 800 KOMs was linked to banned performance enhancing drugs and suspended after failing a drug test.  Now with the advent of digital sports platforms it’s easier, simpler and safer to cheat by just using fake data.

Welcome to the world of eSports.

PHOTOS: Strava, Portillo, ASO 

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