Dutchman by birth and now Austrian resident by choice, Johnny Hoogerland soloed to victory at the 40th edition of the monumental 238 kilometre Ötztaler Cycle Marathon in Solden, Austria on Sunday 29 August.
The ex-pro rider, already a multiple UCI Gran Fondo World Series race winner, continued to hone his form in preparation for the October 2021 UCI Gran Fondo World Championships. He finished in 7:21:01, ahead of Austrian Hans-Jörg Leopold (7:28:26) and Italians Mattia De Marchi (7:28:27) and Fabio Cini (7:34:25).
“That was a memorable day for me! Already on the first climb I noticed that I have great legs and I was never at the limit. De Marchi was super strong on Jaufen pass and Timmelsjoch, and I knew that I had to follow him quickly. The last five kilometers were very hard, I still got cramps. But this is such a sensational victory for me, I have goose bumps,” said Hoogerland.
In the women’s class, German Christina Rausch repeated her dominating victory from 2019. The fabulous cyclist, who trained 30,000 kilometers last year, won in 8:15:20, ahead of the German Veronika Weiss (8:50:29) and the Austrian Bianca Somavilla (8:52:03).
On a cold day with storms threatening rain and snow at any moment, the predicted “bad weather” did not occur until late afternoon, when most of the 2751 participants were closing in on the finish line. The 238km gran fondo route climbed over the four Alpine passes of Kühtai, Brenner, Jaufen as well as Timmelsjoch – covering an incredible 5500 vertical meters. Originally, 4023 cyclists from 32 nations were registered, but due to the miserable weather forecast and possible snowfall, many preferred to stay in their warm hotel and watch the race streaming online.
Due to a huge rockslide last week the route was adjusted slightly, for the very first time it went over Haiminger Sattele to Ochsengarten. This steep and very challenging uphill stretch demanded a lot from the participants right from the start of the race. Then the course again joined the original route to Kühtai.
Complete Otztaler Cycle Marathon results HERE.
PHOTOS: Otztaler Cycle Marathon