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Herrero and Ramírez Lead the ŠKODA Titan Desert

By Monica Buck

A very fast stage ending in a three-up sprint decided that Francisco Herrero was the strongest Titan on the first stage of the race. Meanwhile, in the women’s GC, Anna Ramírez put out a dominant performance beating the rest of the field by over four minutes. Our very own Amanda Bohlin from the ŠKODA AUTO We Love Cycling team finished fifth, trailing Ramírez by over 30 minutes.

Herrero: “I couldn’t be happier”

The elite Titans didn’t wait a day to put on a show. In a stage of pure adrenaline marked by the very fast pace of the race and the high temperatures, Francisco Herrero won the sprint against the reigning champion of the race, Konny Looser and his teammate Roberto Bou.

The two riders of the Cannondale TB team celebrated with hugs and shouts of joy after crossing the finish arch. An exciting end to a stage to remember, in which they rode at full speed from the first minute and covered the 119 kilometres in less than four hours, for a final speed of 31.48 kph in the lead.

ŠKODA Titan Desert
The elite Titans didn’t wait a day to put on a show.

The Segovian, Spanish MTB ultramarathon champion in 2021 and rookie in the ŠKODA Titan Desert Morocco, has been in the lead from the first minute. Five riders, including Herrero himself and four-time champion Josep Betalú, formed a breakaway that set the high pace of the race.

The small group was absorbed halfway through the race and a bunch of about 10 riders was formed, which did not stop pushing until their arrival in Merzouga. Finally, Herrero, Looser, and Bou were the ones who fought for the victory, which fell to the only debutant of the three.

“I couldn’t be happier. I have to thank the hard work of my teammate Roberto Bou, his help has been key to getting the victory.”

General classification male

1. FRANCISCO HERRERO (CANNONDALE TB) – 03:46:49
2. KONNY LOOSER (TAMAYO TEAM) – 03:46:49
3. ROBERTO BOU (CANNONDALE TB) – 03:46:56
4. PAU MARZA (THE WHITE ANGEL BY SANTIVERI) – 03:47:42
5. JULEN ZUBERO (KRYPTEIA) – 03:47:42
6. HAIMAR ZUBELDIA (KRYPTEIA) – 03:47:42
7. ORIOL COLOME – 03:47:42
8. PAU SALVÀ (FACTOR8 CYCLING PROJECT) – 03:50:03
9. LUIS ENRIQUE LOPEZ (KH7) – 03:50:07
10. JOSE CARLOS NUÑEZ (FACTOR8 CYCLING PROJECT) – 03:56:47

Ramírez: “I’m being watched a lot”

In the women’s classification, Anna Ramirez is the first rider to wear the blue jersey. The Catalan showed that she is in good shape to win her fourth title in the general classification. A feat that would place her above Clàudia Galicia, the only rider next to Ramírez with three wins at the ŠKODA Titan Desert Morocco GC.

Already from the first kilometre, the KH7 team rider took off from the rest of the riders alone. Catching her was Vera Looser, a debutant in the race who has previously competed in road cycling at the Olympic Games in Rio and Tokyo.

However, Ramírez only widened the margin over her pursuers and crossed the finish line four minutes ahead of the Namibian rider. Ramirez starts the 2022 edition the same way she finished the 2019 edition, wearing the blue of the leader.

Ramírez said: “We imposed a fast pace and took some shortcuts. It went well. We’ll have to see day by day because I’m being watched a lot”

General classification female

1. ANNA RAMÍREZ (KH7) – 04:14:40
2. RAMONA GABRIEL (GARMIN-LAPIERRE) – 04:19:06
3. VERA LOOSER (TAMAYO TEAM) – 04:19:06
4. HILDEGUNN GJERTRUD (CANNONDALE TB) – 04:22:52
5. AMANDA BOHLIN (ŠKODA AUTO WE LOVE CYCLING TEAM) – 04:45:20
6. ALBA SOLES (EDIBIKES) – 04:49:53
7. ZUZANA BOHACOVA (ŠKODA AUTO WE LOVE CYCLING TEAM) – 04:50:25
8. MARTA TORA (CANNONDALE TB) – 04:51:38
9. MARIA LUISA CUENCO (QUIRONPREVENCION) – 04:57:22
10. ARIADNA RODENAS (AZONA) – 04:58:23

What will tomorrow bring?

A genuine desert stage: fast tracks with some sandy and some stony sections. The day starts in an area already known until crossing a large oued. From here, we enter an area of twisty tracks and small canyons until we reach a pass between mountains.

This is an important area for the Berbers who collect their water from a well located in this pass. After a few fast kilometres, we face the only uphill and downhill of the day. The arrival to the camp will come after passing through an erg and the Ziz oued that will have to be crossed before the finish line.

This is a marathon stage, which means that riders will not receive any external assistance (mechanical or personal) at the end of the stage.