Hail, Saudi Arabia, January 31st, 2020. At kilometre 82 of the stage and with 18 kilometers to go, Julen Zubero, Josep Betalú and Oscar Pujol were leading the stage. All three riders are also 1-2-3 in the race overall standings. Earlier in the stage they had left behind Oriol Colomé, Xavier Fiego and Jose Luis Gomez Miranda, the latter overcome with mechanical problems.

The race leadership was at stake, as Zubero led by less than 90 seconds on Betalú at the end of yesterday’s stage. The rider from the Basque Contry in Spain pursues his first success in a Titan-labelled race after a bunch of top-5 overall finishes. However, Zubero faced misfortune as a stone hit both gear and pinions and also damaged the bike chain. Zubero owns a bike shop and he’s good at repairing, so he managed to make it to the finish line. Nevertheless, he lost more than two minutes when fixing the bike and thus crossed the finish line 5’03’’ behind Betalú. As a result, the 4-time Titan Desert race winner is the new Titan Series Saudi Arabia race leader by 3’32’’ and only one stage remaining.

“The race was looking good” Zubero explained. “As the race leader, I was given the responsibility of setting the pace and I chose a steady and comfortable one until we reached a stony section 18 kilometres from the finish line. There, a stone hit my gear and I had to stop and repair. This is a marathon race that takes place in the desert and these things may happen. I’ve lost first place in the overall today, but there’s still one stage left and together with my two “haima-mates”, Gomez Miranda and Oscar Pujol, sure we will try to revert this situation. Tomorrow our plan may work or not, but we will enjoy the stage and will try to be the centre of attention, anyway”.

The new race leader, Josep Betalú, remembered all his misfortunes in stages one and two. “Nobody is safe from having mechanical issues in a MTB race like this. Today it was Zubero’s turn as it also happened to me on the previous stages. Psicological strength is key, as such situations may bring you down easily. We were riding very fast when I saw that Julen was not in the group. I had planned to clinch the overall lead today and that’s the reason why I decided not to respond Oscar Pujol’s attack. I am really happy to be on top of the standings. Misfortune did not visit me today so smile is back on my face”, Betalú said. The new race leader is having a fantastic experience. “Standards are now really high after the first run of the Titan Series Saudi Arabia. The experience is being simply stratospheric. All facilities in the camp, the food, the means and resources we have in the middle of the desert…. There aren’t words to describe it! All this makes this race spectacular from all points of view”, he stated in admiration.

The stage winner, Oscar Pujol, was more than happy today. Two stage wins out of three stages. The former professional cyclist is enjoying this MTB race like never before. “The stage course was absolutely wonderful. It was a mountain stage and terrain was harder than the days before, so riding was much easier. I helped Zubero to keep the leader jersey as we are good friends, but there’s nothing you can do when mechanical problems appear. After Julen’s bike breakdown I rode with Betalú and attacked in the last uphill section to clinch the stage win. This race is getting better and better day after day. You never get tired of such a beautiful scenery and competition is being both spectacular and fun as well”, Pujol said.

 

3 out of 3 for Silvia Roura

Spaniard Silvia Roura remains unbeaten in the ladies’ class in the 2020 Titan Series Saudi Arabia. Three stages, three wins. Full house for the KH7-backed rider, who makes the difference in every single stage. “I love mountain stages and today there were some up-and-downs on the course that I really enjoyed. This race is completely different to all others and I’m having real fun. It is like riding while being on holidays! Everything in the camp is absolutely overwhelming: showers and restrooms look spectacular, and the haima-tents look like… hotel suites! Simply amazing! In addition, people here are very kind. I never thought I could enjoy this race so much.”, the ladies’ class race leader said.

Andorran Marta Ballús finished second once again, even though more than 30 minutes behind Roura. Esmeralda Vitoria was third and took the third place in the overall from Monica Huguet.

Tomorrow is the day of the last stage of the race. 70 kilometres that will start with the spectacular canyon that riders already know from stage two, and some rocky sections and big plains to follow until all these adventure lovers reach the Millenium Hotel in Hail, the final finish line of the 2020 Titan Series Saudi Arabia.