New scenes of toughness and physical endurance can be seen from 10 to 15 October in the Titan Desert Mountain bike race that will take place in Morocco.
The North African country will host a new edition of the Titan Desert MTB Marathon, as confirmed by the organisers. This race is a competition that tests the competitors' orientation and physical endurance on the mountain bike; a real challenge between the participants and the environment and also for the riders themselves.
The cycling event is one of the toughest in the world in the field of mountain biking and is once again a benchmark in the sporting calendar with the participation of authentic figures in this discipline, such as Josep Betalú, who has four victories in the competition, Julen Zubero and Roberto Bou, as well as other competitors who have taken part in other types of cycling events, such as Melcior Mauri, Abraham Olano or Sylvain Chavanel, who had outstanding participations in very important road cycling events such as the Tour de France or the Giro d'Italia.
As confirmed by the organisers of the Titan Desert race, during this new edition, the riders will have to go through the first two mountainous stages, and then continue with a "marathon" without the support of navigation before completing their race in the Merzouga desert, on sandy tracks and rocky sections.
Up to 400 competitors are expected to sign up this year to once again test themselves in a cycling event that is known as the Dakar of cycling for its extreme toughness and sheer demand.
The first stage will run through Boumalne Dades, the second stage will connect this area with Ait Yahya, the third will link this enclave with Tafraoute, where the fourth stage will start to reach Erg Chebbi, where the fifth stage will be totally focused and from where the sixth stage will start, which will reach Maadid, putting an end to the event.
The first stage will be a mountain stage with a first fast section parallel to a riverbed and then an ascent to the highest point of the day. This is where this year's Škoda Challenge will take place. A steep descent will leave the participants at the foot of the north face of the mountain, where the route will change to a very narrow track between villages and isolated houses. At the exit of this area, they will enter a riverbed and run 4 kilometres through the interior of a spectacular canyon, one of the unforgettable stages of this edition. With some technical stretches and others where you will find water, you will reach the final part of the day. A continuous up and down that will take you back to the same starting point, as it is a loop stage. A spectacular start to the race due to the views and the layout of some of the sectors.
The second stage will also be a mountain stage, with a fast and classic start in the history of the Titan Desert. The stage is divided into two major ascents and descents along the Moroccan Sahro, which will be crossed from north to south to cross lunar landscapes, tracks hanging into the void and steep ridges. The route is mostly on stony tracks, except for the last few kilometres. At the end, you will emerge from a canyon to arrive at the bivouac. It will be an epic day, a challenge for all the competitors and will leave no one indifferent. This will undoubtedly be the great stage of the first part of the Titan Desert 2021.
The third stage is the first sector of the marathon stage. A total change of scenery: a day of 99 kilometres, short compared to other stages, but which takes the riders into the desert. An unprecedented stage: never before has the Titan Desert descended so far south, reaching the Algerian border near Tafraoute, as stated on the competition's official website. A day that will start on fast, if somewhat stony, tracks before entering a large oued. From the start, the runners will face long tracks with some well-marked switchbacks. At the end, they will reach a large dry lake, which they will cross in a south-easterly direction until they reach the bivouac on a large esplanade.
The fourth stage is the second sector of the marathon stage. A long stage, with some sandy passes and typical Moroccan landscapes. After the start, you take a track in good condition until you reach the pass of a well-known canyon on the desert routes: the Mharech pass. On the other side of this small canyon, the landscape changes, with sandy areas and rocky sectors. We will head north to bring the participants closer to an area that will later lead them through the interior of another canyon, this time very rocky. Once out of the canyon, along tracks familiar from previous editions, the competitors will approach the foot of the dunes. A section that, as the kilometres go by, gradually improves until it becomes a very fast track. The Erg Chebbi dunes await for the next stage at the foot of the bivouac.
The fifth stage is a classic Titan Desert stage: the loop around the dunes of Erg Chebbi, but with a different start and finish than usual. After a fast start, the riders will take on a dune pass of about 4 kilometres to tackle the navigation sector. A route around a mountainous area, with several ridges, canyons and rocky areas, where the competitors will have to find the various checkpoints and hydration stations. Once they have passed this sector, the riders will take on a long track heading north to finish round the dune range and return to the starting point. In addition to the difficulty of the route and the unaided navigation, this stage will also involve accumulated fatigue.
The sixth and final stage of the Titan Desert 2021 will be a day that will be remembered by all those who reach the finish line. A different stage to the usual ones on this last day. It starts off towards the north and, after a few kilometres, enters a mountainous area that will be crossed until reaching a large, very stony plain. After a steep and very sandy descent, the runners will enter a large track that is very hard hit by the vehicles that frequent the area. Before reaching the finish arch, the runners will have to face the crossing of a river where they will find a large flow of water, the last difficulty before heading towards the finish line.