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22-04-2024 | Marcel van Herten

Chasing the qualifier: the 32nd Neusiedlersee Radmarathon

With the UCI World Gran Fondo Championships in Denmark on my racing calendar, I needed a qualifier. Opting for a flat UCI Qualifier, I headed to Austria's Mörbisch am See. On April 21, the 32nd edition of the Neusiedlersee Radmarathon (NRM), known for its flat course suited for strong riders, was scheduled.

© Neusiedlersee Radmarathon

Warm reception in fresh conditions

The NRM team provided a warm, enthusiastic welcome, with great hospitality from all volunteers in Mörbisch, Judith at Hotel Drescher, Christopher Strasser during the Sitzfleisch podcast recording, and many others. The weather forecasts predicted cold and rain, making the day's discussions revolve around the challenging weather and course. However, Burgenland lived up to its slogan, der sonnenseite Österreichs, presenting us with a clear blue sky and ten degrees, although the strong north breeze made this NRM edition quite tough.

Gran fondo in three stages

Right from the start at NRM, after just five hundred meters, we tackled the Mauer von Mörbisch—two kilometers of climbing at up to 15%. The next ten kilometers were a mix of ups and downs. On the second climb, the group split around the thirtieth place, and I was just behind the break. Despite keeping up the effort, I couldn't bridge the gap on the final steep ascents before the border with Hungary.

© Neusiedlersee Radmarathon

The Hungarian section was smoother than expected, allowing speeds over forty on average. However, as we headed north, the pace dropped. The second stage featured echelons, headwinds, and the continuous struggle against the elements, turning sixty kilometers into a formidable challenge.

By the third stage, as we turned away from the wind, many riders kept up as the pace increased again. The last 25 kilometers were covered in 35 minutes, and I managed to lead effortlessly, drawing on 25 years of cycling experience. Another climb over a kilometer loomed ten kilometers from the finish, shedding riders with tired legs. Speeds reached sixty km/h down towards Mörbisch, and I aimed for a high finish in the final sprint with my group.

Objective achieved?

Post-race, the critical question was: Did I secure my ticket to Aalborg? Thanks to RaceTimePro's service, results were available seconds after finishing. I placed 35th out of 199 in my age category, comfortably within the top 25% required by the UCI. Thus, I'm set for Denmark in September! The overall victories went to Austria's Elisa Winter for women and the Netherlands' Jeroen van Voorden for men. Full results are available here.

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