Hail (Saudi Arabia), February 1st, 2020.  Race victory was almost in his hands and the only thing Josep Betalú had to do today was grabbing it. And, as one of the riders named favourite to win this race prior to the start, he did.

The first edition of the 2020 Titan Series Saudi Arabia has been gratefully surprising to everybody. The whole country of Saudi Arabia has thrown itself into the event. Full co-operation with the race organizers has been key to success. Scenery in all stages has been superb and a tougher-than-expected terrain has put all 150 participating riders to the test. They all have been privileged riders by having the chance to experience the first run of this great adventure.

The Titan Series has arrived…and it is here to stay. This is a bunch of MTB stage races aimed to provide all participants the same super-intense and challenging experience they get when they take part in the Titan Series flagship race: the Garmin Titan Desert. Next April Morocco will host the 15th edition of the Titan Desert and, later on, Titan Series will move to La Paz-Mexico (November 13th-15th).

The 2020 Titan Series Saudi Arabia race started on the 29th of January and it soon revealed itself as much tougher and more demanding than nobody could expect.

Victory in the first stage went to former professional road-race cyclist Spaniard Oscar Pujol. That was his first of two stage wins, but the race leader’s name was to change at the end of stage two. Spaniard Julen Zubero won that stage, took the race lead and clinched the green jersey, reserved to the top rider in the overall standings.  Zubero and Betalú battled fiercely in stage 3 but mechanical problems on Zubero’s bike forced him to give the green jersey up to Betalú.

Josep Betalú, the KH7-backed rider, led the overall by over three minutes at the start of the last stage of the race. The only thing Betalú had to do was riding the stage while keeping a close eye on Zubero. And so he did. Both riders, with the company of Jose Luis Gomez, reached the finish line together, as Gomez sprinted to clinch the stage win.

“Nobody can imagine how happy I feel after winning this race!”, Josep Betalú said. “I feel even happier than if I had won the Garmin Titan Desert for the fifth time! I am a very competitive rider, things weren’t going well at the beginning of the race and I was not having a good time. But, fortunately, everything went back to normality and I managed to win the race. Winning the first run of a brand-new MTB marathon race is never easy, so this victory is very special to me”, he explained. “The whole event has been simply spectacular and well above of our best expectations. Kindness from people here was overwhelming and I am still amazed at the facilities in the camp and in the hotel. The five-star rating applies to both! This was a VIP Titan race, I would even say! And, what a beautiful country! I had never been to Saudi Arabia before and I’ll come back, that’s for sure!”

 

Silvia Roura: the story of an undisputed domination

Four stages and four wins to summarize Spaniard Silvia Roura’s performance in the 2020 Titan Series Saudi Arabia. Despite having to ride alone for the most part of the race, By setting wide time gaps day after day on the finish line, she built up a comfortable race lead.

Roura’s performance was even better today. With no pressure at all and the overall win in the pocket, she was 10th today, her best scratch result in the race. She crossed the finish line less than 20 minutes behind the stage winner, Jose Luis Gomez.

Second place both in the stage today and in the overall goes to Marta Ballús from Andorra, while Monica Minguet is third.

“I have enjoyed this race a lot. Landscapes are spectacular here and everything went perfect! People are very kind and the whole race has been perfectly organized. It was a fantastic experience”, Silvia Roura said. “After three super-tough days, stage was gentle today. From the canyon section on, I rode the remaining of the stage in the second group and I even felt better as the stage progressed”.