Morcillo and Ródenas win the NEOM Titan Desert Saudi Arabia17/11/2023
He started in red on the first day and finished in red on the last day. Enrique Morcillo, one of the great favourites to win the NEOM Titan Desert Saudi Arabia, has made good the predictions and has won the men’s GC.
This is the third participation of the Ibizan in Titan World Series events, after his two bibs in Morocco editions in 2015 and 2016. Morcillo had not taken part in a Titan Desert for more than seven years, but he has come here as one of the strongest riders and has proved his good feelings.
The race was not decided until the final kilometres of the last stage. He and Haimar Zubeldia were tied on time. In the end, it had to be the last day, with its almost 70 kilometres along the Red Sea, that decided the final outcome.
Zubeldia, who repeats the second place in the GC that he achieved last year, fought all the way for the victory, but Morcillo was strong in the last kilometres and opened a gap of 36 seconds with the Basque rider, which was enough to wear the red on the final podium.
Morcillo was not, however, the first to cross the finish line today. That honour went to Luis León Sánchez. Luisle’, who lost a lot of time to the top two riders on the first day, leaves with a more than interesting haul from his debut in the Arabian adventure: two stage wins and third place in the GC.
Titan World Series racing season has come to an end. An incredible year that has left three winners who had never won a GC in this type of race before: Roberto Bou, in the Škoda Titan Desert Morocco; Fran Herrero, in the Škoda Titan Desert Almeria; and, most recently, Enrique Morcillo, in the NEOM Titan Desert Saudi Arabia.
ARIADNA II OF ARABIA
Nothing is given away in a race like the NEOM Titan Desert Saudi Arabia. The fact that Ariadna Ródenas has won her second consecutive edition of the Saudi race with a gap of hours over the second place finisher should not be misleading.
The cyclist from Elche suffered, fought hard and proved that she was the one who most deserved to take home the blue jersey for another year.
While last year she seemed to be measuring only against herself, in 2023 she was up against what has been the dominant Titan World Series rider throughout the year: the Dutch rider Tessa Kortekaas.
Ródenas lost the first stage in a sprint against Kortekaas, a day of tremendous effort. It seemed that the forces were tremendously equal, but the rivals saw the Mondraker rider “very strong”. And she proved them right.
The display given by the now double winner of the NEOM Titan Desert Saudi Arabia in the second stage will go down in history. Riding more than 50 kilometres alone, Ródenas managed to break away and open a gap of more than half an hour with her immediate pursuer. One of the toughest stages in living memory.
The following day, Kortekaas, due to physical problems and fatigue, decided to drop out, leaving the race open to Ariadna Ródenas.
The rider from Elche did not want to leave anything to chance and won the two remaining stages of the race. Ródenas can now boast of being Ariadna II of Saudi Arabia.