Zubero tames the Saudi canyons07/12/2022
The protagonists of the second stage of the NEOM Titan Desert Saudi Arabia were almost the same ones as on the first day: David Valero, Haimar Zubeldia, Ariadna Ródenas and the strong wind. But there were new features: Julen Zubero’s victory, hard climbs, some navigation areas and some spectacular canyons that accompanied the peloton all day long.
The stage was faster than Tuesday’s, despite the technical climbs and descents that measured the bikers’ skill. The wind, which again blew strongly, blew in both directions: in favour and against the riders.
Similar to what happened yesterday, a group of 10 or 12 riders was formed and took the lead, but it was soon reduced to three: the leader, David Valero; his immediate pursuer, Haimar Zubeldia; and the eventual winner, Julen Zubero.
They rode together for almost half of the stage. In dazzling landscapes that began in the great desert plains, continued through mountains and canyons, and finally headed for the Red Sea coast.
Pulling with understanding and measuring each other, they reached the finish line together. In the end, Valero decided not to compete the stage, although he retained the red jersey that distinguishes him as the NEOM Titan Desert Saudi Arabia leader.
The stage was tougher for Ariadna Ródenas, although her dominance in the women’s GC has not diminished a bit. Having widened her gap to almost an hour over her nearest rival, Muriel Bouhet, the rider from Elche admitted that she had suffered a lot during the day.
Despite trying to ride in a group, as she did yesterday, in order to overcome the impact of the wind as much as possible, Ródenas joined a group that was pushing at a very strong pace in the last sections.
In the end, she decided not to push too hard before the 139-kilometre challenge that awaits the entire peloton tomorrow. He rode alone for the last third of the race, the one along the coast and with the wind a little more favourable.
Ródenas thus consolidates her lead and will be looking to leave it all intact tomorrow. A loop stage in which a major part of the NEOM Titan Desert Saudi Arabia 2022 will be decided.