Betalú strikes twice
November 4 th 2020 - 13:44 [GMT + 1]
- Josep Betalú takes another win in stage 3 after matching Sergio Mantecón pedal stroke for pedal stroke
- Untouchable Clàudia Galicia makes it three for three and maintains iron grip on the overall
Tabernas, 04/11/2020. Josep Betalú has emerged victorious twice in a row. The mountain biker from Amposta followed up on yesterday's solo triumph by a minute and ten seconds with his second consecutive victory in the 2020 Titan Desert Almería and is now homing in on what would be an unprecedented fifth consecutive overall win.
Today's loop around Tabernas got under way with an ascent leading to one of the stream beds typical of Almería up until the Lucainena rail trail. The riders set an infernal pace on this section until the main difficulty of the day, a stony climb with a big altitude difference. Sergio Mantecón and Josep Betalú were already leading the race at this point, as the Cantabrian endeavoured to drop the Catalan and the latter clung onto his main rival in the general classification. It was more of the same on the descent from Sorbas to Tabernas and, in the end, Betalú outsprinted Mantecón on the line to grab his second stage win in a row.
Sergi Oller (Tomàs Bellés) finished third, almost three minutes ahead of Primaflor's José Márquez. Meanwhile, the other favourites crossed the line huddled together in a group consisting of Julen Zubero, Oriol Colomé, Jesús del Nero, Guillem Muñoz, Iván Díaz, David Martínez, Haimar Zubeldia, Pau Marzà, Jorge Lamiel, David Arroyo, José Luis Gómez, Roberto Bou, Moisés Dueñas and Óskar Valdepeñas. Their finishing time of 3 h 18′ and their average speed of 28 km/h was testament to the scorching pace of today's stage.
The Iron Lady
Clàudia Galicia is still light-years ahead of the competition in the fifteenth-anniversary edition of the Titan Desert, as she put another ten minutes into runner-up Sílvia Roura and third-placed Ramona Gabriel in today's stage. Galicia again finished in the top 30, crossing the line alongside riders such as Tommy Misser, the first Spanish winner of a World Cup leg, and Sylvain Chavanel, the record holder for most starts in the Tour de France.
Roura (KH7-Logifrio) and Gabriel (Lapierre) remain locked in a fierce battle for the podium. The two riders watched each other closely today and finished the stage together, leaving Roura's margin of almost four minutes over Gabriel in the general classification intact.
Josep Betalú: "There's no such thing as an easy stage in the Titan, you can't let your guard down. Sergio Mantecón pushed hard on the climb and I managed to break away with him. After catching José Márquez, Sergio upped the pace again, so I just clung to his wheel and let him do all the work. He went flat out. I sprinted as fast as I could in the dash to the line. It's not every day that you get to beat a rider of the stature of Sergio.
I'm very happy. Winning the stage also increased my gap to the other riders, but Sergio is still right behind me and is a very tough rival. When my team starts pulling, I follow their wheels and Sergio follows mine, so in the end he's also benefiting from my team. Having the team would be a real godsend if I got dropped, so Sergio might try to take advantage of that."
Sergio Mantecón: "I went on the offensive from the beginning, trying to isolate Josep Betalú and see whether I could deal some damage, but his team did a sterling job on the approach to the climb. I gave it another go there and we slipped away together. We caught the breakaways and, a while later, we found ourselves alone at the front again. Of course, we've both got our own race strategies, so I had to work for 40 kilometres without a single pull from him, but it also consolidated my second place overall and puts me in contention for a stage win."
Claudia Galicia: "Today was a very fast stage. We spent the first 10 to 20 kilometres alone with another rider until we got caught by the Tommy Misser group and finished the rest of the stage with about a dozen people. It reminded me of the Titan in Morocco, and I must say I had a blast. I'm really enjoying the landscape, it's stunningly beautiful. Tomorrow we'll reach an altitude of almost 2,000 metres. It'll be spectacular, but the race will be tough."