On Sunday, 1200 riders from 32 countries tried to qualify for the UCI Gran Fondo World Championships at the 125 kilometer Neusiedlersee Radmarathon in Mörbisch, Austria, but the main competition on the day was an energy sapping and demoralizing headwind.
With 40km to go, German Alexander Steffens and Austrian Martin Geretschnig attacked into a strong 60kph headwind, opening a gap on a big chasing peloton, including 2021 UCI Gran Fondo World Champion and ex-Tour de France rider Johnny Hoogerland.
But it was 28 year-old time trail specialist Tobias Häckl (NXTLVL/Chiemgau Cycling Club), champion of the Kitzbüheler Radmarathon and King of the Lake race last year, that overcome the headwind and solo bridged to the front duo with 10km to go.
Back in Mörbisch, the trio sprinted for victory and a front row starting bib at the world championships, with Häckl overtaking Steffens and Geretschnig in the final meters to take the win in a record time of 2:51.36 at an average speed of 43.8km/h. The previous course record was 2:53:00.
“It was a really great race today and extremely fast from the beginning,” said Häckl after his first Neusiedlersee victory. “In the end, I was able to catch up with the two leaders.”
The first woman was Austrian Katharina Machner who repeated her win from last year in 3:09:44 with an average speed of 37.5km/h, defeating Stefanie Lisko (3:12:20) Anna Briefer (3:21:07).
In the 26km time trial on Saturday, Belgian Jari Verstraeten won the ”race of truth” at an average speed of 45.2km/h, beating Martin Geretschnig and David Polzer by 27 and 57 seconds respectively.
With 400 riders participating in the time trial races and 100 youth riders, the 30th edition Neusiedlersee Radmarathon set a new record of 1700 total participants.
Complete UCI Neusiedlersee Radmarathon results HERE.
Photos: ASC, UCI GFWS