Konny Looser makes a big step towards race victory as Silvia Roura clinches her first Titan Desert stage win

Garmin Titan Desert 2021 | Stage 5 | Erg Chebbi > Erg Chebbi
October 14 th 2021 - 15:26

  • The Swiss rider overcomes his fears in the navigation stage, takes his second stage win and widens his gap as the race leader
  • The 2020 Titan Series Saudi Arabia race winner and current second in the overall, Silvia Roura, sprints to stage victory ahead of Ramona Gabriel

Erg Chebbi, October 14, 2021. Konny Looser has shown once again that he is the strongest rider in the Titan Desert pack. He took on the challenge after being presented as one of the main contenders to the 2021 Titan Desert title, but some doubts arised when he was asked about his navigation skills, a key feature of this race: “I have always followed arrows and markings. I have no idea about how to navigate on a bicycle”. This statement automatically marked stage #5 –the navigation stage- as a possible weak point for the Swiss in this race.

Koony Looser won the first stage and the Skoda Challenge too, so it became quite clear to everybody that a physical collapse was not likely. The Swiss controlled the race in stages #2, #3 and #4 and today’s stage –with no arrows nor any markings on the stage course- was marked as the most difficult one for the Stoll Racing rider.

Looser rode in the chasing group during the Erg Chebbi dune crossing (kilometers 10 to 15), a Titan Desert classic. Josep Betalú was leading the stage thanks to a 4-minute gap. However, the KH-7 rider made a mistake and first riders to reach the hydration station #1 were Guillem Muñoz and Oscar Valdepeñas. Good news por Muñoz –second in the overall behind Looser- on his quest for the race leader’s red jersey. But later on, Muñoz also failed to find the right way…

With 25 kilometers to go, Konny Looser took the stage lead. One minute behind the Swiss, Muñoz and Betalú tried to catch up with him and, an additional minute behind,Haimar Zubeldia, Julen Zubero and Oscar Valdepeñas appeared. Navigation gathered Looser, Zubeldia and Zubero together with 15 kilometres remaining, but the Swiss broke away to win his second Titan Desert stage this year and confirm his chances to the overall victory.

Konny Looser: “My stage today has been tactical and intelligent. Right after the dune crossing, I found myself alone, but I kept riding my own track. It’s been a stressful situation, because I did not know where my rivals were nor the direction –left or right- that I should take at some points. Then I saw Betalu in front of me, I cooled down and decided to ride my own pace. I made contact with Zubero and Zubeldia at the last part of the stage and managed to win. My lead is wider now and tomorrow’s stage is shorter. Winning Titan Desert in my first participation would be amazing. I will do everything I can to keep the leader’s jersey.

Roura sprints to victory

“I had never lost a sprint in my whole career so far”, Sílvia Roura confessed at the end of stage #3. “My father told me: ‘when I saw you in that group and approaching the finish line, I had no doubt that you were going to win the stage”. Wrong prediction by Silvia’s father as Ramona Gabriel clinched the stage win. But today everything worked out well. “As soon as I have started to sprint, I’ve imagined my father following the stage at home and I said to myself that I had to make him feel happy today”, said Roura, laughing.

Following the breakage of a tyre valve, Silvia Roura was lucky to find Roberto Bou on her way. The young Spanish ace helped her to catch up with stage leader Ramona Gabriel. The only thing Silvia had to do next was a good sprint finish. And she did.

“When the tyre valve got broken I couldn’t believe such a misfortune. Fortunately, I could get a wheel from a teammate and then I was lucky to make contact with Roberto Bou. His riding skills on the dunes are superb so I have been able to catch up with the stage leader and win.” Silvia is now second in the overall, even though the gap with race leader Ariadna Rodenas is quite big: more than 30 minutes. Rodenas is very close to clinch the Titan Desert title, but in the desert and in this race in particular everything can happen.

Tomorrow, the last stage of the race

All titans reaching the finish line tomorrow will remember that moment for life. The last stage is 74 kilometers long, from the dunes in the Erg Chebbi to Maadid, but the best reward is waiting for all of them: the fossil to prove that they are Titan Desert race finishers.

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