Bike racing in Innsbruck
Bike racing in Innsbruck: Stunning routes and buzzing city life.
At the latest by 2018 when Innsbruck will be hosting the UCI Road World Championships, the capital of the state of Tyrol will be the centre of attention amongst racing cyclists. The World Championships will be held from 22nd to 30th September 2018 when the best racing cyclists in the world will be competing in Innsbruck and celebrating their wins. However, even now, Innsbruck is already a biking insider secret for those who want to combine a sporting challenge within an alpine environment and an urban lifestyle.
As soon as the sounding of the horns of the com
missaire’s motorbike is audible, the Peloton already rushes down the long straight last leg with nearly 40 miles/hour towards the finish line in front of the Hofburg Imperial Palace. The best bicycle racers in the world will be sprinting when one of them proudly raises their arms. Innsbruck has experienced this fascination or something similar indeed during previous road cycling races and is now recognised as one of the most famous road cycling race venues in the whole of the alpine region. Therefore, it speaks for itself as to where all the twelve Road World Championship races, which will be held from 22nd to 30th September 2018 in Tyrol, could only ever end: in Innsbruck. In comparison to the road world championships of previous years, the 2018 World Championships will be a true challenge for mountain riders and masters of one-day races. Although, the routes are currently still being planned in detail, it is clear that the closing mens‘ race will be reserved for the mountaineering specialists of the Road World Championships as it takes place at more than 5,000 meters altitude.
Innsbruck – A paradise for bicycle racers
Information drawn from road world championships show that Innsbruck is indeed a destination for a sporting challenge for bicycle riders. Whilst the Inntal valley scenery is a pleasant area and is flat, the heights are steep around the edges. However, the rise is steadily manageable. The roads are in a good state of repair and just a few kilometres outside of Innsbruck are plenty of roads with not much traffic, which presents pleasant conditions for bicycle riders. Many are fascinated by the mix of superb racing routes and the urban flair of Tyrol’s largest city. Whilst one collects miles by riding at high altitude in the day or enjoys trips around the city with stunning views, the evening is reserved for the nightlife at Innsbruck with local culture and culinary specialties.
The finest routes: A selection
Innsbruck – Kühtai
The track up to the Kühtai, which is 2,020 metres above sea level, is a classic and every participant of the Ötztal bicycle marathon is familiar with it. You will leave the city to the west with no stress and no traffic on the asphalt cycle way ‚Innradweg‘ along the river Inn. Once the airport has been passed, the ride continues on the A-road (‚Bundesstraße‘) along the north side of the river Inn until Telfs and continues from the south of Telfs, up to the ‚Ötztaler Höhe‘. At the roundabout, follow signs towards Oetz and it is here where the challenging rise above Ötzerau and Ochsengarten towards Kühtai begins. 18 kilometres at 1,200 metres altitude have to be overcome before reaching Kühtai. The highest gradient is 18% - a muscle boggling affair. In winter, Kühtai is a vibrant sports resort whilst presenting itself with tranquillity in the summer. We recommend stops along the way at the mountain huts such as the ‚Dortmunder Hütte‘, the ‚Dorfstadl‘ or the public house ‚Gasthof Schöne Aussicht‘. We would also recommend warm clothing as, at a height of 2,000 metres or more above sea level, this is alpine terrain. Wind jacket, mittens and a woollen hat should be packed for all seasons. From Kühtai, the route goes rapidly downhill to Kematen. At the Ötztal bicycle marathon, speeds of well over 60 miles/hour can be reached at some parts. But be aware: Firstly, because this is a public road although quiet and secondly, because the area around Kühtai is rural and sometimes, a horse or cow may stray and end up on the road. From Kematen onwards, the road keeps flat again back to Innsbruck and at Völs, we recommend changing again onto the ‚Innradweg‘ along the river Inn.
Length: 65 miles / 105km
Height difference: approx. 5,250 feet / 1.600m
Duration: approx. 5 hours (without break)
Recommended stops: Ideally, at the summit of the tour in Kühtai. But there are public houses, cafes and supermarkets along the route for instance in the villages Telfs, Oetz or Gries im Sellrain.
Character of the tour: Initially, a steady warm-up until Oetz, then a more challenging ride in alpine terrain.
Variations: The route can obviously also be ridden the opposite way. For anyone who would like to collect further miles at altitude height, we recommend a detour from Gries im Sellrain into the beautiful Lusens valley (‚Lüsenertal‘) with a break at the public house with the same name ‚Gasthof Lüsenertal‘. Also, the ‚Haiminger Sattele/Saddle‘ offers mountaineering specialists a challenging rise from the village Haiming onwards.
Experience Innsbruck‘s Holiday villages
When riding along the favourite route around Innsbruck ‚Rund um Innsbruck‘, a bicycle rider will collect some amazing 5,250 feet/1.200 metres in altitude and nearly 40 miles/60 km in distance. They will learn about the immediate surroundings of Innsbruck travelling along roads with hardly any traffic and most of the time, the city will be visible. Travelling from Innsbruck towards the north along the Karwendel mountain range, the route passes through the small villages of Mühlau, Arzl and Rum before turning towards the high-plateaued Gnadenwald in Thaur. In Gnadenwald, there are several options of rushing back down to the Inntal valley. On the way back to Innsbruck, it is more than convenient to stop for a break in Wattens and visit the Swarovski Crystal Worlds museum. Bicycles can be stored here securely. And also, the Women’s individual time trial (ITT) race at the 2018 UCI Road World Championships is started here at the Swarovski Crystal Worlds museum. At the Church of St Karl (‚Karlskirche‘) in Volders, the rider leaves the A-road (‚Bundesstraße‘) and crest up to the next high-plateaued altitude. From the bottom of the valley, the route leads towards Tulfes, then through Rinn and Lans at the bottom of the Olympic Mountain Patscherkofel and through to Igls. From Igls onwards, a steep road leads straight down into the city. This is the side of Innsbruck that boasts the Olympic ski jump tower Bergisel, which was designed by the Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid, whilst the striking view of the Nordkette mountain is always visible.
Length: 37 miles / 60 km
Height difference: approx. 5,250 feet / 1.200 metres
Duration: approx. 3 hours (with no break)
Recommended stops: There are always beautiful villages along the way with one or the other public house or supermarket whilst the Swarovski Crystal Worlds museum offers the finer things, including desserts, and the Restaurant Daniels should definitely not be missed.
Character of the tour: The radius around Innsbruck is quite small though, the roads are still fairly quiet. There are also a few possibilities of shortening the tour or save on altitude. The tour guarantees striking views of the city and the surrounding mountains.
Light round with a view and culture
Less altitude – nonetheless plenty of view – when touring across the idyllic sunny plateau Mieming. From Innsbruck onwards, the tour continues easy on the cycle way ‚Innradweg‘ with no traffic but this time along the south side of the river Inn. Then back onto the A-road (Bundesstraße) at Völs, passing through the villages of Inzing, Hatting and Flaurling whilst passing one or the other traditional tavern or public house. The cultural highlight of this tour is a visit of Stams Abbey (‚Stift Stams‘), which can be combined with a visit of the Abbey’s own Orangery. Following the visit, the tour continues leaving the A-road (Bundesstraße) at Mötz and via an at times very steep asphalt cycle way up to a high altitude. However, the rider is rewarded with an absolutely stunning view of the rough limestone Wetterstein mountains when arriving at the sunny plateau of Mieming. The immediate surroundings display the view of green meadows and fields as well as the pilgrimage church ‚Wallfahrtskirche Locherboden‘, which already can be seen when approaching the Inntal valley. From the village Mieming onwards, the route follows a light descent towards Telfs. From Telfs onwards and quite unspectacularly, back to Innsbruck along the north side of the river Inn. After Zirl though, the unique ‚Martinswand‘, a steep mountain wall, cannot be missed, which is busy with climbers from the near city who indulge in their hobby.
Length: 44 miles / 80 km
Height difference: approx. 1,800 feet / 650 metres
Duration: approx. 3 hours (with no break)
Recommended stops: Any of the several traditional public houses in the villages up to Telfs, the Orangery with gardens at Stams Abbey (‚Stift Stams‘) and the ‚Café Maurer‘ in Mieming. The latter has an excellent choice of cream and other cakes and sweets, and boasts a beautiful sun terrace.
Character of the tour: Tour with not much of a height difference but with cultural, scenic and culinaric highlights. Only the incline from Mötz along the cycle way to Mieming is very steep. Theoretically, this can be bypassed by riding along the less inclining A-road (Bundesstraße) but there is a quite some traffic. We recommend to ride this route clockwise as the section from Mieming to Telfs is along the A-road (Bundesstraße) and it will be easier to flow with the traffic as it slightly slopes.
Bicycle friendly accommodation in the city centre and holiday villages
Certified accommodation opportunities for bicycle riders are increasing – in the city centre as well as the surrounding holiday villages. These spaces offer everything a biker heart could wish for: lockable rooms, cleaning facilities, a wash-and-dry service, sporting breakfast and much more.
Tour suggestions, descriptions and downloadable GPS Files as well as a list of the certified accommodation opportunities for bicycle riders can be found at www.innsbruck.info/en.