• The Spanish rider clinches victory in the first stage with a 3-minute 11-second advantage over Titan Desert ace Josep Betalú
  • Big gap in the ladies’ class overall. Silvia Roura leads by more than half an hour
  • The stage has been tougher than expected. Riders now to rest in a five-star Titan Series camp

Hail (Saudi Arabia), January, 29 2020. Over 140 riders made history today in Saudi Arabia. The first stage of a brand-new MTB event, the Titan Series, has taken place. Riders have experienced true racing and adventure on a mountain-bike in the same way they do in the “mother-race”, the Titan Desert race. The province of Hail hosts the first Titan Series event. In November the adventure will move to La Paz-Mexico.

Spaniard Oscar Pujol is the Titan Series first stage winner. It took the former road-race professional cyclist three hours and eleven minutes to ride 90 kilometres, the length of this first stage, with an average speed of 28km/h. “I did not expect this kind of terrain but I enjoyed the beautiful scenery. A wonderful mountain chain and some big and spectacular dunes were close to us and views were amazing.  I am very happy to be the first leader of the race. Riding in this country is a fantastic experience. My goal for this race was winning one of the stages and I have already clinched a double prize: this stage win and the overall lead. I am very happy”, Pujol said.

As for the stage history, Pujol said: “Twenty kilometres before the finish line the terrain was very soft and I decided to leave the published track. I took some risk by riding a stony track with the threat of a punctured tyre. I managed to put a bit of a gap and kept it up to the finish. I have taken part in two editions of the Titan Desert race and I have found the terrain in Saudi Arabia very demanding. It is really difficult to make the bike move forward. Now it is time to control the race, but that won’t be an easy task. Josep Betalú is a very strong contender and I will have to do my best when his attacks arrive”.

Second at the finish was Josep Betalú, 3 minutes and 11 seconds behind Pujol. The four-time Titan Desert race winner is one of the favourites to win this race but had some mechanical issues today. “It was a wonderful stage that fitted my riding characteristics quite well”, Betalu said. “However, I made a mistake by going to the right in one section of the track. Oscar took the lead at that point and soon I realized that I was not riding comfortably. My bicycle seat was very low and I had to stop to put it back in the right position. I even had to stop once again for the same reason. I found the following uphill section very hard and that fact brought me a little bit down. Let’s see what happens tomorrow because Oscar will be a strong leader, for sure”.

Betalú was amazed with the new Titan Series race. The Rocky Mountains here are really wonderful and facilities in the camp are simply perfect. This is a five-star Titan Series camp: the physios-room, the dining room, the “haimas”… The whole camp is amazing!”

Third in today’s stage was Spaniard Julen Zubero after beating Oriol Colomé right on the finish line. Both riders are 4 minutes and 18 seconds behind Oscar Pujol in the overall.

As for the ladies, 13 women took the start this morning. First on the finish line was Silvia Roura, from Spain. The KH7-backed rider may already have victory in her pocket after winning the stage by more than 30 minutes. “I rode in a group at the beginning of the stage but I was alone when I left the dunes and so it went until the last 20 kilometers when I was able to catch up with a group of riders. I loved the scenery today, but I never thought that terrain here could be more demanding than that in Morocco. More sand, more wind and the fact of riding alone…all this makes a MTB stage really hard!

Today it was a tough stage for all riders, as nobody expected such a soft terrain and so many problems to pick up some speed when on the bike. Tomorrow a huge physical challenge awaits all 2020 Titan Series Saudi Arabia riders. Stage two shows the biggest elevation gain of the whole race for a single stage. Participants will ride a loop-stage south of the mountain chain in the wonderful region of Hail.