April 28 th 2019 - 15:28 [GMT + 1]

  • 675 riders (an all-time record) started Stage 1 of the 2019 Garmin Titan Desert
  • Josep Betalú carries all before him and wins in a sprint ahead of the Czech rider Marek Rauchfuss in a very close stage
  • Anna Ramírez managed to get ahead of Ramona Gabriel in the last few kilometres and crossed the line with a 44-second lead

Merzouga, 28 April 2019. The Garmin Titan Desert 2019 is already under way, and has done so in style. The 675 entries, an all-time record, set off for the 109 kilometres and 800 metres of elevation gain with the enthusiasm of people fulfilling a dream. Indeed, this adventure becomes a memory that you keep for your whole life.

Josep Betalú once again stood out on the first day. The cyclist from the Viorcam-KH7-Pasion MX team set the pace in the desert, having won the last three editions and apparently determined to do the same again.

The riders were grouped together until the end, a clear sign of the high level of the elite riders in the race. Betalú, despite a mechanical incident that led him to lose about two minutes, ended up beating his rivals in the final sprint. Czech Republic’s Marek Rauchfuss (Škoda WeloveCycling – Kross Bikeranc) crossed the finish line just three seconds behind, staking his claim as one of the main candidates for victory at the end. Paul Salvà, Oriol Colomé and Guillem Muñoz came in just behind these two.

Joaquín “Purito” Rodríguez also made his debut in the Garmin Titan Desert. The Spanish rider said: “I really enjoyed myself, and I’m happy with my first stage. I was surprised by the navigation, it is as if someone throws a bomb into the peloton and everyone goes their own way. You don’t know whether to follow the track, another rider, or yet another one… but that’s the essence of the race”.

As for the women, the stage was dominated by Anna Ramírez and Ramona Gabriel. The last two winners of the last four editions rode together until right at the end, when Ramírez took advantage of some help from a team-mate to break free and get an advantage of 44 seconds at the finish line. The World Champion of UltraTrail, Núria Picas, finished third.

Josep Betalú: “If you strike first, you strike twice. After the dunes I put more pressure in the tyres and the valve broke. I lost 2 minutes trying to repair it and thought that victory was slipping out of my reach. However, my navigation was very good and I caught up with the leading group. My legs are strong and I go all out”.

Anna Ramírez: “It’s been a difficult first stage. There were very tricky sections of dunes in which you had to get off the bike and walk. In places where you could pedal you could make progress, but it ended up being a head-to-head battle with Ramona Gabriel. About 15 kilometres from the finish I linked up with a team-mate and we managed to open up a gap so I could cross the line first, although by a small margin”.

Follow us