The 40th Ötztal Cycle Marathon: a successful anniversary event.

There you have your dream.

“I have a dream” is the slogan of the Ötztaler Cycle Marathon. Johnny Hoogerland, Carinthian by choice, fulfilled his dream of victory on Sunday, 29 August at the 40th Ötztaler Cycle Marathon! He won ahead of Hans-Jörg Leopold as well from Carinthia and Italy’s Mattia De Marchi. In the women’s class, Christina Rausch from Germany triumphed as she did last in 2019.

The weather gods were in a merciful mood and spared the participants in the 40th Ötztaler Cycle Marathon, an event that brings annual added value of around 4.5 million Euros and 20,000 overnight stays for Ötztal. The predicted “bad weather” did not affect the finishers at least until late afternoon. At 6.30 am on Sunday morning, 2751 participants started the challenging 238 kilometer route at around five degrees Celsius. The marathon track led over the four Alpine passes of Kühtai, Brenner, Jaufen as well as Timmelsjoch – covering incredible 5500 altitude 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. “2261 cyclists finally crossed the finish line in Sölden,” states organizer Dominic Kuen. We had great winners with the Dutchman Johnny Hoogerland and the German Christina Rausch, who also won in 2019. However, everyone who “had a dream” (motto of the Ötztaler) is among the winners in Ötztal!

Replacement route at the anniversary Ötztaler
Due to a huge rockslide last week, the route led for the very first time over “Haiminger Sattele” to Ochsengarten. Then the course again joined the original route to Kühtai. The steep and very challenging uphill stretch demanded a lot from the participants right from the start of the race.

Hoogerland celebrates greatest marathon success of his career
After a fairly long chase and with a terrific cycling time of 7:21.01 hours, Johnny Hoogerland was the superb winner of the 40th Ötztaler Cycle Marathon. “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 the Carinthian by choice.

The Dutchman Hoogerland, who has been running a hotel in Velden for three years now, became really famous in the 2011 season. He took part in his first Tour de France and won the mountain jersey five times! Pictures of the 9th stage went around the world when he formed the top duo together with Juan Antonio Flecha and was pushed away by an escort vehicle. Hoogerland fell into a barb wire fence but then continued to fight his way to the finish line.

Leopold and De Marchi fought for second and third place
Fighting for the remaining podium places, the Carinthian ex-professional Hans-Jörg Leopold managed to catch up with De Marchi shortly before the top of Timmelsjoch. Together they conquered the downhill stretch towards the finish line, where Leopold (7:28:26) was able to secure second place in the finish sprint ahead of De Marchi (7:28:27). Second Leopold struggled a bit with the route: “Unfortunately, I cycled much too fast on the first mountain and I didn’t really recover from this effort until the end.”

Italy’s Fabio Cini was fourth, followed by strong Robert Petzold and Fabian Costa from Haiming. The Tirolean Patrick Hagenaars, whose left hand was amputated after an accident, also made a fabulous race and finished seventh! Ötztal’s Jonas Holzknecht, the youngest participant, also proved his great talent with his 22nd place in 7:52 hours!

Christina Rausch triumphs again in the women’s class

Germany’ Christina Rausch was unbeatable in the women’s class just like in the 2019 edition. The fabulous cyclist, who trained 30,000 kilometers last year, won at a time of 8:15:20 hours ahead of the German Veronika Weiss (8:50:29) and the Austrian Bianca Somavilla (8:52:03). Already at Kühtai saddleback she took over the lead and was never in danger to lose it again. Organizer Dominic Kuen congratulated not only the winners but all the starters today: “We were so lucky with the weather and we saw great performances of all participants. Huge congratulations to Christina who is currently almost unbeatable among women, and of course to Johnny.”

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