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Mantecón and Looser Win Stage 5 of the ŠKODA Titan Desert

By Monica Buck

Sergio Mantecón proved to be an expert in navigation and crossed the line alone before all the GC favourites. In the women’s race, Looser managed to win but Ramírez was right on her wheel and thus stayed in the overall lead with ease.

Mantecón: “We navigated well.”

He had been trying with better and worse luck since the start of the ŠKODA Titan Desert Morocco 2022. Shortcuts on the track, cuts in the terrain, navigation… Attempts, after all, to gain time on his rivals through map reading. Sergio Mantecón has made his debut in Morocco with the desire to show that he has taken great care of navigation. And in the stage that looked the most promising, it worked to perfection.

The ŠKODA We Love Cycling stage started very fast. Riders sought to be the first to cross the first checkpoint that marked the end of the timed ŠKODA Challenge section. With a few kilometres of navigation almost from the start and a stretch of dunes across the terrain, Mantecón showed he has the strength and intelligence to beat Óscar Pujol in the sprint and gained himself a 60-second bonus in the GC.

From there on: improvisation, chaos, and entertainment. The peloton was completely fragmented, looking for the best sections of a stage without a track for about 50 kilometres. In that confusion, the Cantabrian rider was the one who moved the best. Several minutes behind him was the peloton of favourites. Small cuts, some attacks, high paces but Francisco Herrero did not lose track of Konny Looser at any given time.

The end could not happen any other way than Mantecón entering alone with the feeling that the previous work paid off. Behind, Looser and Herrero reached the sprint. With no differences in the lead, everything is left for tomorrow. We can expect a short and technical stage ending in Maadid where the winner of the ŠKODA Titan Desert Morocco 2022 will be crowned.

Mantecón: “We navigated very well. The mistakes of the previous days made me learn how to understand the maps and today, it went well.”

Herrero: “I feel the pressure but I just have to give it all. If it doesn’t work out, at least I can rest assured that I have given 100%.”

General classification male

1. FRANCISCO HERRERO (CANNONDALE TB) – 19:08:09
2. KONNY LOOSER (TAMAYO TEAM) – 19:08:12
3. JULEN ZUBERO (KRYPTEIA) – 19:14:11
4. PAU MARZA (THE WHITE ANGEL BY SANTIVERI) – 19:24:46
5. GUILLEM MUÑOZ (EDIBIKES) – 19:25:50
6. ORIOL COLOME – 19:29:33
7. LUIS ENRIQUE LOPEZ (KH7) – 19:48:55
8. PABLO GARRIDO (GOBIK FACTORY TEAM) – 19:49:18
9. TOMAS MISSER (SKODA WE LOVE CYCLING MONDRAKER) – 19:56:06
10. SERGIO MANTECÓN (SCOTT – CALA BANDIDA) – 20:05:37

Looser: “I got a bit lost.”

In the women’s classification, Anna Ramírez continues with her strategy of measuring efforts. She controls the race by a wide margin and only pushes her body as far as she knows she can. But, sometimes, ambition overtakes tactics and instinct wins.

Ramírez pressed and took the section of the ŠKODA Challenge that allows her to extend her lead by one minute over her immediate pursuer, Vera Looser. The Tamayo Team rider came in just over a minute behind the overall leader.

Titan Desert
The ŠKODA We Love Cycling stage started very fast.

The Namibian continued to work to catch the KH7 rider and ended up in the lead just before the third checkpoint. Looser kept pushing and managed to cross the finish line in first position, although Ramírez was on her wheel. Two partial victories are all that the Namibian rider has been able to scrape off a leader who is still unbeatable.

Looser: “I got a bit lost after the dunes. Luckily, I connected with Anna and everything was decided in a sprint.”

Ramírez: “I will follow the smartest tactic that we have been doing these days: stick to her. That and be careful with the mechanics.”

General classification female

1. ANNA RAMÍREZ (KH7) – 21:47:13
2. VERA LOOSER (TAMAYO TEAM) – 21:53:10
3. RAMONA GABRIEL (GARMIN-LAPIERRE) – 22:30:31
4. MARTA TORA (CANNONDALE TB) – 24:26:15
5. ARIADNA RODENAS (AZONA) – 24:36:19
6. ZUZANA BOHACOVA (ŠKODA AUTO WE LOVE CYCLING TEAM) – 24:53:59
7. ALBA SOLES (EDIBIKES) – 25:10:25
8. CRISTINA PUJOL (GHOST) – 25:25:07
9. MARIA LUISA CUENCO (QUIRONPREVENCION) – 26:41:31
10. MISHA SEKULOVA (ŠKODA AUTO WE LOVE CYCLING TEAM) – 26:56:15

What will tomorrow bring?

The start will be fast and on wide roads, which can be sandy at some point, until the riders reach a large oued. Here, the terrain changes and becomes very rocky, steadily rising to a high point that precedes a short but intense descent.

After the downhill, a very steep section begins that leads to a plateau. The descent is on a very technical trail, a new feature in this Titan Desert. The route continues along a large road that will approach a ford, which, depending on the time of year, carries more or less water.

The titans only have a few last kilometres to complete in the ŠKODA Titan Desert 2022.