Johnny Hoogerland comments on Woerthersee gravel course

Johnny Hoogerland, former professional cyclist and the current M40 Gravel World Champion moved after retiring from pro cycling from the Netherlands to Velden-am-Woerthersee in 2018. He started running a bike hotel and is still very active on the bike scene. He also designed the course for the first UCI gravel event in Austria happening on April 7th.

Hi Johnny, can you give us a sneak peek into what the course looks like?

Johnny: Of course! The course kicks off in front of the famous “Schlosshotel Velden” with a beautiful view of the lake. The first 7-8 kilometers are on wide open roads, so the start order isn’t crucial. There’s a steep 500-meter climb at 10% in that first part , but the rest is relatively easy, with some gentle inclines and declines alongside the Drau river.

Are there any challenging parts riders should watch out for?

Johnny: Definitely! Once we hit the gravel section, there’s a tough 2-kilometer climb with a middle section at a staggering 20% gradient. It’s wide enough for riders to pass, but it’s still a significant challenge. And watch out if it’s rainy—the conditions could make it even trickier as I have seen many putting foot on the ground there!

Do you think this will be the deciding point of the race?

Johnny: Not necessarily. The race spans almost 150 kilometers, so making big moves early on might not be wise. I anticipate some groups splitting off at this point in each lap, but the real decisions might come later on.

Can you tell us more about the course along the Drau river?

Johnny: While a big part of the course follows the Drau river, it won’t be boring straightaways. There are plenty of twists and turns to keep things exciting. And if the weather’s dry, it’ll be a fast-paced ride. My friend Jasper Ockeloen even found it more technical than expected during our course recon!

What about the final stretch?

Johnny: In the last few kilometers, there’s another climb, about 1 kilometer long with a gentler gradient of 7-8%. It might not be as steep, but after the distance covered, it could still make a difference. And from there, it’s not far to the finish line by the lake.

Excited to see who will be winning!

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