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The 400 Titans now have their bibs

6 de October de 2023

Less than 12 hours remain for the 400 Titans taking part in the Škoda Titan Desert Almeria 2023 to set off on one of the adventures of their lifetimes.

A 101-kilometre loop stage around El Toyo awaits them tomorrow. A first test for all the riders, who will suffer on the bike, but will enjoy the breathtaking views of Cabo de Gata.

There are four stages ahead, a total of 366 kilometres and more than 6,500 metres of accumulated altitude gain. All this without leaving the province of Almería.

The Cabo de Gata, the Tabernas desert, the Velefique summit and the Álvarez de Sotomayor military base. A whole series of challenges for four days with a very distinct identity of its own.

Some of the main contenders for the men’s and women’s GCs have already spoken out about the challenge ahead of them. Tessa Kortekaas, Luis León Sánchez, Ariadna Ródenas, Luis Ángel Maté and José Antonio Hermida took part in the pre-race press conference.

José Antonio Hermida himself, Olympic medallist in Athens 2004 and mountain bike world champion, has shared his impressions as ambassador of the race: “For me, the third day, the Škoda We Love Cycling stage, is going to be the critical one. Velefique is a very tricky climb. You think it’s over and it goes on. And then it’s a tremendously technical descent. That’s where everything will be decided between the GC contenders”.

Meanwhile, Tessa Kortekaas, reigning champion of the Škoda Titan Desert Morocco, admitted that she has already been able to ride a few days in Almería: “I had a race in Andalusia and I took the opportunity to spend a few days seeing the stages. I would say that, for me, this race is harder than the Škoda Titan Desert Morocco. I was surprised. Maybe not in terms of heat or the number of stages, but in terms of elevation and the toughness of the stages I think it can be more difficult.

One of the big names of this year’s edition is that of a debutant in the race, the recently retired former professional rider of the Astana team, Luis León Sánchez: “I’m not here to fight, but to enjoy myself. It’s not my discipline. I come from the world of road racing and, although I have done mountain biking, this is not my discipline. What is clear to me is that I’m not here to crash again. I’ve had a tough year in terms of that and what I want now is to have fun”.

A former team-mate of ‘Luisle’ in the professional road peloton, Luis Ángel Maté, has also tried to discard himself from the leading positions: “Although I was here last year, I’m still light years away from the professionals in this field. This year I’ve trained a bit more in mountain biking and maybe I’ve gained a few light months, that’s true. But for me this event is a challenge and an opportunity to be with the amateurs, with those people who look for free hours to be able to ride a bike when they can. Those are the real cyclists”.

Finally, one of the great candidates for the women’s GC, Ariadna Ródenas, who already knows what it’s like to win the Škoda Titan Desert Morocco and the NEOM Titan Desert Saudi Arabia, underlined the level of her rivals: “I come stronger than I did last year and with a lot of motivation to win, but the rest of the cyclists who are going for the GC are too. This makes it more difficult, but it also makes you push yourself even harder every day”.

These are just some of the most recognisable names in the peloton. Alongside them, other top riders such as Miquel Faus, Mónica Calderón, Miguel Muñoz and Fran Herrero will be competing for the prized race winner’s fossil.

Presumably behind them in the GC will be entering each and every one of the 400 participants in the race. 400 stories that will come to an end on the 10th of October when they cross the final finish line of the race, but that will begin tomorrow in El Toyo, with the start of the first stage of the race.

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