Everyone smiles at NEOM08/12/2022
The Titan World Series are races where, obviously, the outcome matters. The list of winners is remembered over the years and the winner’s name appears in the newspaper archives. But it is more than just competition.
This is becoming very clear at the NEOM Titan Desert Saudi Arabia. Three stages, three winners and three names have dominated the race chronicles: David Valero, Julen Zubero and, now, Haimar Zubeldia.
Today’s stage was the queen of this edition, the fourth longest in the history of the Titan Desert, with 139 kilometres. With this length, the spectacle was in the variety: sea, canyons, fast tracks, broken tracks, climbs, descents and, of course, desert.
At the head of the race were the usual suspects: David Valero, Haimar Zubeldia, Julen Zubero, Josep Betalú and Roberto Bou. Before arriving at the second feed station, the group split up. Only the two GC leaders remained ahead: Valero and Zubeldia.
The Basque rider and the rider from Granada gritted their teeth in the last kilometres, between canyons and more open deserts. At the end, Zubeldia won, but they were both smiling. One for winning the stage, the other for staying leader. But everyone in the peloton is smiling for enjoying a NEOM Titan Desert Saudi Arabia that is surpassing all expectations.
Measuring, regulating her efforts and controlling her lead. Ariadna Ródenas said yesterday that she didn’t want to push herself too hard after two extremely tough first days, from which she had come away with a sufficient amount of time in the GC.
So, being cold and with the certainty that she is the strongest competitor, the rider from Elche faced the almost 140 kilometres of challenge that the whole peloton had ahead of her today.
In the end, Ródenas stuck to her strategy of the last few days: look for a group that suited his pace and keep riding as close together as possible.
A simple plan, that has achieved to her three stage victories and has virtually certified her victory in the GC, with more than an hour’s lead over her immediate pursuers: Misha Sekulova and Muriel Bohuet. A milestone for a rider who already knows what it’s like to win the women’s GC in Morocco and the mixed duo in Almería.