Morcillo and Kortekaas strike first14/11/2023
It should come as no surprise that Enrique Morcillo is the current leader of the NEOM Titan Desert Saudi Arabia 2023. The rider from Ibiza has been one of the strongest men throughout the year and his name was among the favourites for the men’s GC.
Perhaps the way in which he has done it is surprising. A large group of about 11 riders came together at the second timed point of the race. Among them were the Buff Megamo Team biker himself, along with Luis León Sánchez, Miquel Faus, Lluís Mas, Julen Zubero and Haimar Zubeldia, among others.
It was then that Morcillo and Zubeldia, feeling stronger than the rest of the riders in the lead, decided to attack. The second half of the day was more technical, with a little more elevation gain and favourable to create a gap. And the understanding between they two paid off.
They managed to open up a gap of up to 10 minutes over the rest of the chasers when they crossed the finish line. In the end it was Morcillo who won the stage, with the same time as Zubeldia. Behind, with a lot of work to do to make up for lost time, came ‘Luisle’, Zubero, Quiles and Guerrero.
This victory is the second for the cyclist from Ibiza in Titan World Series races, after his victory in the fifth stage of the Škoda Titan Desert Morocco in 2015. Morcillo had not participated in a race of this type for more than seven years, since the one he took part in Morocco in 2016.
The stage has been extremely tough and exciting in the women’s GC. Tessa Kortekaas, reigning champion of the Škoda Titan Desert Morocco and the Škoda Titan Desert Almeria, is now the leader.
The Cannondale VAS Arabay biker beat Ariadna Ródenas in the sprint, although she did not manage to open a gap with the Mondraker rider from Elche at the finish line. Both riders will start tomorrow with the same time in the second stage.
Both riders, who have already faced each other in several races throughout the year, rode together throughout the day. They stayed in the lead, very close to the group of male leaders, but an off-track where they made a bad decision forced them to wait for another group so as not to ride alone.
From there to the finish line, the two favourites to win the NEOM Titan Desert Saudi Arabia rode at a good pace until the tight sprint. Crossing the finish line, Kortekaas emerged victorious, her ninth stage win in the Titan World Series so far this year.