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An empty throne and a clear contender

23 de April de 2024

Škoda Titan Desert Morocco 2024 starts this Saturday, April the 27th. The nearly 500 Titans who will face the challenge of the desert have ahead about 600 kilometers over six stages.

The Atlas Mountains, the Erg Chebbi dunes, the haimas of the camps in the desert and the sporting challenges of the race will be the main protagonists for the whole peloton. Some will be able to overcome them at a comfortable pace that will allow them to get through the adventure without too much suffering.

But there will be others, a handful of riders, who will go ahead of the rest, at a furious pace and unattainable for the rest of mortals. They are considered the Škoda Titan Desert Morocco elite and, in 2024, the fight for victory is going to be very tight.

In the men’s GC, there will be several candidates to take the throne left empty by the current Škoda Titan Desert Morocco champion: Roberto Bou. Bou will not participate in this year’s race, leaving the way open for the other contenders.

Konny Looser is perhaps the first to deserve a mention. The Swiss rider has won the GC in 2021 and 2022. In 2023, an illness in the fifth stage kept him out of the fight for the top positions and in this edition he will be looking for compensation.

Also looking for redemption will be Fran Herrero. The Segovian has been second in the last two editions of the Moroccan race, but is the current winner of the Škoda Titan Desert Almeria.

Alongside them, a number of bikers of the calibre of Sergio Mantecón, Josep Betalú, Miquel Faus, Pau Marzá or Benjamín Prades, among others, will try to demonstrate their expertise on the wide wheels of the mountain bike and take the lead of the race.

Outside of the mountainbike experts, the 2024 edition is notable for the large number of former road cycling professionals who will be setting out to conquer the desert.

Óscar Pereiro, winner of the Tour de France in 2006, will return to the Škoda Titan Desert Morocco almost a decade after his last participation, in 2015. The Galician rider promises to put up a fight in the leading positions.

Newcomer in the race and who left the World Tour peloton just a few months ago, Luis León Sánchez will also be one of those who will make noise. A five-time Spanish champion and winner of four stages in the Tour de France, the Murcia native has already ridden in Almeria and Saudi Arabia. Now, he completes his participation in the Titan World Series in Morocco.

In the elite women’s category, all eyes are on Tessa Kortekaas. The Dutchwoman showed her best in her debut in the last Škoda Titan Desert Morocco. Her feat in the fifth stage, in which she came ninth overall, is still remembered.

Kortekaas’s dominance was also carried over to the Škoda Titan Desert Almeria, where she came out on top. Only Ariadna Ródenas could stop her in the NEOM Titan Desert Saudi Arabia.

Without Ródenas among the participants of the race, others will have to try to impose themselves on the reigning winner. Pilar Fernández, who has already been on the podium in Titan World Series races, will try to stay at the top of the women’s pack. As well as the debutant and ex-professional road racer Iris Gómez.

Finally, with less experience, but an enviable track record, a local cyclist will be looking for a surprise.  Representing the Moroccan Cycling Federation the reigning national champion of Morocco in road and time trial: Chaimae Ez-Zakraouy. 

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