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Kortekaas challenges Looser

2 de May de 2023

Vera Looser is the GC main favourite for the Škoda Titan Desert Morocco. This is an indisputable truth. She started as the strongest and her favouritism was confirmed by her impressive performance in the first stage. More than seven minutes that she gained on the first day seemed to be enough. After the third stage, her dominance is still there, but the biggest rival has appeared at home.

Tessa Kortekaas has won her second consecutive stage in the race. The Dutch rookie has also cut almost half a minute off her team-mate and leader in the women’s GC. Kortekaas is strong and she feels strong.

In a stage in which they were all grouped together until the 100th kilometre, the last 30 kilometres, of pure navigation in the desert, were the ones that Kortekaas used to open up a gap. He saw weaknesses in the rest of his rivals and pressed on.

This is how stage 3 Kosner – Saltoki Home was defined, the first of the marathon stage and one in which there are always surprises. The whole peloton has to spend the night with whatever they have brought with them. The clothes and sleeping bag that they will use tonight will be the ones they have carried on their bikes today.

“I feel strong, but we’ll see tomorrow after sleeping without a mattress,” joked Tessa. How the participants will come out after the marathon night is a question mark. It was also a question mark as to how a first-time triathlete would perform in the race, and Tessa Kortekaas, for the time being, has solved that question: she has been the strongest, at least, in the last 24 hours.

Before the first female riders arrived, the men’s lead group arrived. And the first to do so was Sergio Mantecón, just a few metres ahead of another veteran of the race, Josep Betalú.

Everything was solved with one of those key factors now that the race is entering the desert: navigation. In a stage full of leadership changes, with breakaways from the start and constant cutbacks, everything was up in the air until the last kilometres.

Óscar Pujol seemed to enter the final sectors as favourite. This is especially commendable, considering that Pujol competes as a Škoda Adventure. In other words, he had no mechanical or physiotherapy assistance throughout the race.

However, navigation, the luck that has brought so many joys and misfortunes to Mantecón, worked out well this time for the Valencian rider. He and Betalú took several cuts on the way to the finish and so they arrived together in the lead. In the end, it was all for the Scott Cala Bandida rider, who came in stronger.

A few seconds later, the overall leaders appeared. They were riding close together, wheel to wheel. No difference. Looser retained the leader’s jersey without difficulty.

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