The Highlander Radmarathon in Austria was overshadowed by a terrible accident in which one of the participants was killed after straying off the road on a wet hairpin turn and falling 15 metres to his death.
65-year-old Ingo Schulz from Germany started the 187-kilometer-long lap around Vorarlberg with a group of four other friends in the rain, but due to varying abilities the group did not stay together throughout the entire route. At the finish in Hohenems Schulz did not appear, even after hours and could not be located at any of the route aid stations.
Carsten Daun, one of Schulz’s cycling partners, said, “We always wait for each other at the end. Each of us drives according to his or her abilities. When he was long overdue, I contacted the organizer and called the surrounding hospitals. After we received no information, we filed a missing person report with the police and informed the ambulance service in Voralberg.”
An immediate search was then launched with the help of police and emergency personnel.
Shortly after midnight, Schulz was found dead below Laternser Strasse. According to first responders, he is likely to have slid out on a steep wet asphalt hairpin turn, crashed over a low stone barrier and landed in a steep ravine 15 meters below. The German suffered a fractured lower leg and serious internal injuries, likely dying around noon at the scene of the accident.
Friends say Schulz was an experienced cyclist who had been racing in the Alps since 1998 and recently earned a Top 10 placing at the Senior World Masters Championship in St. Johann, Austria. Riding the “Highlander” was part of his training for the 238 kilometre Öztaler Radmarathon taking place at the end of August.
On the tragedy, former Highlander and Ötzaler champion Mathias Nothegger said, “The descent from the Furkajoch is very slippery when it rains. Due to the excursion traffic, it can happen that oil, fuel or moss is on the road again and again. Here it is the personal responsibility of each individual driver to drive with the necessary caution.”
Adding, “The problem is that many amateur athletes completely overestimate themselves when it comes to cycling marathons. I see again and again how participants who lose time on the climbs try to catch up with daring descents. But the fact is that you can never win here, only lose. Just like on Sunday, in the worst case, your life.”
PHOTOS: Highlander Radmarathon, Jan Hagemann