THE DESERT IS HERE AND GABRIEL AND BETALÚ WIN

Garmin Titan Desert 2021 | Stage 3 | Ait Yahya > Tafraoute
October 12 th 2021 - 15:18

  • The first leg of the marathon stage has taken place today. Cyclists must take with them everything they deemed necessary for today’s stage, the overnight -where they all share the only available and enormous haima- and tomorrow’s stage. To make things tougher, mechanics and physiotherapists are not allowed in the Tafraoute bivouac.
  • Ramona Gabriel takes her second stage win and consolidates in the lead of the women’s class. 4-time Titan Desert winner Josep Betalú, with no chances in the overall, cheers up by crossing all alone the finish line.

Tafraoute, October 12, 2021. After two stages, the 16thTitan Desert has left the mountains behind and the desert will be the new race scenario from now on. Today, titans had the opportunity to ride on the sand for the first time, and the third stage of the race also allowed some navigation. Experience played its role, as Josep Betalú and Ramona Gabriel –both Titan Desert race winners- clinched the stage win.

Today was the first day of the marathon stage, a day in which participants must carry with them everything they need to spend the night and leave the next day for the next stage. For this reason, bikes looked quite different. Sleeping bags and bags with pieces of clothing, tools or bike parts inside could be seen tied to the handlebars or under the saddles. Hydration backpacks looked fuller than ever too.

Today’s bivouac looks different as well. The 3-people comfortable haimas cannot be found today, and all riders must sleep together in a single and common space. The assistance teams, either mechanics or physiotherapists, are not allowed today in the bivouac. The only and very limited help for riders comes from the Würth assistance truck and today you can see how titans massage each other to accelerate muscle recovery after more than 300 kilometers in just three stages.

We are in the desert…and this is Betalu’s land

The king of the desert has shown that, despite two fateful stages full of mechanical problems and having lost all chances to win his fifth Titan Desert this year, he is still one of the big names in the peloton. The Spaniard has clinched today his first 2021 Titan Desert stage win.
A large pack of 20 riders set a tremendous pace (average speed was 30 km/h), and Josep Betalú even decided to do a bit of navigation in the last part of the stage. He broke away, managed to cut some meters to the planned race course and got a 2-minute gap. However, the Costa Rica-based ace made a mistake and crossed the finish line just one minute ahead of the group of eleven cyclists, with race leader Konny Looser and Guillem Muñoz, second in the overall, Pablo Guerrero, Haimar Zubeldia or Julen Zubero in it.

Josep Betalu finally had a reason to smile: “It is really hard to cope when you see how strong your team is and realize that we’re out of the battle for the race victory. Now comes the desert, my favourite racing environment. Today my potenciometer showed 300 watts and I felt good, so I decided to push. This is the way I like to ride: feeling positive and always pushing hard. Riding in the middle of the pack means nothing.”

Second stage win for Ramona Gabriel

The leader in the women’s class, Ramona Gabriel, keeps the blue jersey for at least another day after clinching today’s stage win. Gabriel and Ariadna Rodenas are the strongest riders in her class, so they ride the whole stage together. No surprises allowed! After 100 kilometers and four hours, third place went to Silvia Roura, the brilliant 2020 Saudi Arabia Titan Series race winner.

“I am feeling very good and I rode the mountain stages much easier than expected. Today I found myself quite strong too. The first part of the stage was very fast and soon we were all riding at break-neck speed! Fortunately, things cooled down and all girls made it together to the finish line. I sprinted well and won the stage, that’s it”, said Ramona Gabriel, double Titan Desert race winner.

Tomorrow, the second leg of the marathon stage

Riders will arrive in Erg Chebbi tomorrow as they ride the second leg of the marathon stage. 130 kilometers, an elevation gain of 1,000 meters, a spectacular canyon to ride through, stony sections and lots of sand where it is very difficult to move forward are the main features of stage 4. Titans will reach the foot of the dunes of the majestic Erg Chebbi.

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