Stage 6: Josep Betalú makes history in the 2019 Garmin Titan Desert
May 3 rd 2019 - 14:31 [GMT + 1]
- Betalú becomes the first rider to win the Garmin Titan Desert four times in a row.
- World champions and Paralympic gold medallists Ignacio Ávila and Joan Font win the closing stage on a tandem.
- Anna Ramírez wraps up a perfect race, claiming every single stage and taking her third win outright.
Maadid, 3 May 2019. Josep Betalú and Anna Ramírez are the brilliant winners of the Garmin Titan Desert, which started in Merzouga six days ago and came to an end in Maadid today. The 600 km route was packed with sand, mountains, jaw-dropping landscapes, struggles… adventure, at the end of the day, a wonderful adventure that attracts increasing numbers of cyclists from all over the world.
Joaquim "Purito" Rodríguez, Sylvain Chavanel, Abraham Olano, Haimar Zubeldia and José Luis Carrasco were some of the most prominent participants in this edition. Yet one man was head and shoulders above the rest. The winner of the 2016, 2017 and 2018 editions struck again in 2019. No-one knows the desert as well as Josep Betalú, who became the first rider in the history of the Titan to win the race four times in a row. Roberto Heras has also won the race four times, but not in a row.
Josep Betalú: "The Titan is a race that made me great, still makes me great and has become part of my life. It is the first thing that comes to mind when I wake up in the morning. I go to bed thinking about it. Sometimes, I even dream about it. It's a spectacular race, and I'd even go as far as to say that it's without a doubt my greatest experience racing on a bike. I'm over the moon with this result because it's already hard enough to win once, so imagine what it takes to win twice, thrice and then a fourth time… but this is what the Titan does, it gets you hooked and you can't say 'no' any more. You set yourself goals, challenges and, well… I felt some pressure faced with the prospect of a fourth win. Coming here with the best team made it so much easier, like yesterday, when I had a flat, but Iván Díaz was right next to me and helped me out."
Today's stage will also go down in history for a different reason —the first Titan stage win by a tandem. And not just any tandem: victory went to Ignacio Ávila and Joan Font, prolific medal hunters in both the Paralympics and the World Championships.
Ignacio Ávila and Joan Font: "We are very happy and satisfied. We've been chasing a stage win since 2017, but we only managed to get it today. We'd come close a few times before, finishing in second or third place, but today we finally came out on top. When you finally make it after so many attempts, you feel relieved, what with the super-strong field in this race. It's our reward for all the sacrifices we've made, the dedication we've shown and the efforts we've put into every instant throughout the Titan, from the moment we start pedalling to the times when we have to get off our bike to walk through the dunes."
Anna Ramírez was the other star of the 2019 Garmin Titan Desert. After winning in 2015 and 2017, it looked like it was her turn to win again in 2019, and she was right on schedule. She took every stage of the race, leaving nothing for the rest. Ramona Gabriel, her closest rival, tried to take the fight to her, but Anna was untouchable and leveraged her strong team to put over 20 minutes into her opponents.
Anna Ramírez: "The Titan usually favours road cyclists, especially on tracks like the ones we had yesterday, the day before yesterday and today. And well, after a lifetime pedalling on the road, here we are now. I really want to thank each and every member of my team, who all did their bit to make this victory possible and win another Titan, as well as our sponsors."
The dates have been set for the 2020 Garmin Titan Desert. It will be held from 19 to 24 April. Registration opens on Monday with a promotional price for the first 150 riders to sign up.