Next Sunday it's finally there: the Ötztaler Radmarathon. The most important gran fondo in Europe, certainly for the German-speaking part of it. CycloWorld previews.
The Ötztaler Radmarathon will be organized for the 41st time this year. This time there are no less than 4895 participants at the start. As always, Germany, Austria and Italy are by far the most represented. It will be the last time that the ORM will be organized at the end of August. From next year moved the event to early July (9-7). The main reason is that holiday traffic is affected too much by the completely closed course.
The 2021 edition was a special. Because the Kühtai was blocked by a boulder, the riders rode up via the Silzer Sattel. That resulted in 10 extra kilometers, and 200m meters of climbing. But that wasn't the biggest problem. That was the very cold weather. A record number of participants (approx. 1,100) decided not to start and almost 500 riders did not make it to the finish. The emergency services were working overtime, despite warnings from the organisation.
The Ötztaler has an extreme weather subscription. It is either very hot or very cold, sometimes even with wet snow. The weather forecast for this year is not the best. In Sölden, ZAMG and Bergfex predict a maximum temperature of 20 degrees, but at the foot of the Timmelsjoch (in St. Leonhard) this increases to 30. A rain shower in the afternoon is certainly not excluded. Bringing a rain jacket seems sensible, also because it will only be about 10 degrees at the start. Very cold scenes like last year don't seem realistic.
In the men's race there is an extremely strong field of participants at the start. Defending champion Johnny Hoogerland (NL) is the big favourite, he won every GF he started this season. It won't be easy, because three former winners are also taking part: Enrico Zen (IT, 2015), Bernd Hornetz (DU, 2016) and Stefano Cecchini (IT, 2017).
It doesn't stop there. From the top 10 of last edition, no less than 9 men are at the start. Below are known names such as last year's number 2: Hans-Jörg Leopold (AT), Fabio Cini (IT) and Patrick Hagenaars (AT).
And then there is the Italian multi-winner Tomasso Electtrico, the number 2 of this year's Maratona. Or ex-professional cyclist at BMC, Manuel Senni (IT), winner of the Sportful Dolomiti Race. Another name to take into account is the Austrian Paul Verbnjak. He is Hoogerland's training buddy and came in second this year in the Kitzbüheler Radmarathon.
Last but not least, don't forget our own Spain editor Pieter Frolichs (NL).
There is also one big favorite with the women and just like with the men, she comes from the Netherlands. Who else but Martha Maltha? Like Hoogerland, she won every gran fondo she started this season, with the Maratona dles Dolomites as the main one. Bianca Somaville (AT), last year's number 3, is also present. And the same goes for multiple winner Christina Rausch (DE). She is coming back from injury, so it is uncertain what she can do at the moment. The German Monika Dietl, winner of 2013, is also at the start. The Belgian Ils van der Moeren will certainly want to show that she still has to be taken into account. In the past she took fourth place no less than five times and once she was the second. Finally, Martha will also have to deal with Laura Simenc (SI). She placed 2nd in the Sportful and 4th in the Maratona this season. There is also a contender at the start on behalf of CycloWorld: Nicolien Luijsterburg (NL).
The full start list can be found here.
There are some minor changes this year in the course:
The rest of the course remains unchanged: Kühtai - Brenner - Jaufen - Timmelsjoch. Good for 227 km with 5,500 meters of vertical ascent.
Photo: the Kühtai early in spring. This is where the participants of the ORM descend on Sunday.
Starting at 6:30 am there will be a livestream with commentary, live images and much more. Nice to follow from the sidelines.