• 600 mountain bikers will get to grips with the Moroccan mountains and desert: from the High Atlas to the Merzouga dunes.
• 6 stages, more than 600 km, starting on 29th April and finishing on 4th May.
• The aim: speed and orienteering.
• Top-class organisation.
• Cadel Evans as “guest rider” on the first stage!
. A crazy idea
The Titan Desert by Garmin concept is formidably simple and efficient: 6 days of racing with 6 stages over more than 600 km on a mountain bike, in a competitive format that combines sporting performance and orienteering. The riders ride during the day and enjoy the comfort of a premium bivouac at night… except for the marathon stage on which there will be a more austere bivouac. Over a 12-year period, the Titan Desert by Garmin has built up a reputation whose renown has not ceased to increase throughout the world. Although Spaniards make up the majority of the pack, thirty different nationalities will be lining up on the tracks of the Atlas Mountains in late April.
. The route
The route of the Titan Desert by Garmin snakes through an incredible region located between Boumalne Dadès, a small town on the edge of a plateau at the foot-slopes of the High Atlas summits, and Erfoud, spread around the last oasis before the desert. It includes the peaks of the High Atlas and their rocky tracks, as well as the stony desert and extraordinary sand dunes of Merzouga, for 5 kilometres in a breath-taking landscape. In short, during the 600 km of racing it will often be fast, there will be climbs (including 7,500 m of positive gradient), but there will also be struggles, to such an extent to make certain competitors want to dismount. The Titan is a challenge at every moment of the race.
. The sporting challenge
Over the 6 stages, speed will be of the essence, but also orienteering. The riders will set off equipped with GPS tracking equipment, allowing them to follow the route. Limited marking, which is gathered up as the event progresses, helps the competitors with orientation. In general, for the quickest riders, the stages last between 3 to 5 hours. The least quick can spend up to 12 hours per day on their bikes.
Two additional challenges will spice up the contest: the first is a marathon stage raced over two days. This feat of bravery deprives the riders of the usual comfort found on the bivouacs and forces them to carry the necessary supplies for two stages. The second challenge within the challenge is the Garmin stage, which involves pure navigation and leaves the riders with just the 7 compulsory way points, meaning they will have to rely on their instinct.
. The participants
the Titan Desert by Garmin is a race accessible to all those who are able to provide the amount of efforts that it requires. Yet the event also attracts major names from international cycling, such as Laurent Jalabert (FRA), Claudio Chiapucci (ITA), Roberto Heras (SPA) as well as Melchor Mauri (SPA). This year, Australia’s Cadel Evans, winner of the Tour de France in 2011, will be coming to tackle the first stage of the race, which promises to be tough.
Some riders have left their mark on the race’s history. The Titan possesses its “Titan Legends”, a distinction awarded to those who have covered 3,500 kilometres, i.e. six editions. Two Titans, both from Spain, have completed the Grand Slam of all 12 editions, namely Ramón Aranda Arques and Ramón Espelt Otero, with 7,043 km covered on the Titan Desert by Garmin.
. The spirit
The Titan Desert by Garmin would not be what it is without the astounding solidarity that unites the riders. This solidarity springs from the toughness of the race, the tactical good sense of riding in small groups, but also the concept of the bivouac, which is an oasis of life where the mountain bikers come together each evening, alongside the organisers and the press. As the night falls, under the pure skies of the High Atlas, tongues start to wag giving rise to more and more discussions. Awaited by all, the bivouac on the marathon stage brings the riders together under the canvas of large tents, which generates racing friendship.
. Meticulous organisation
Safety and organisation are carefully dealt with and meet high international standards. The bivouac is lavished with much attention. Catering, accommodation, mobile toilets and showers, but also mechanical assistance, physiological support and medical care are all integral parts of the bivouac. The participants’ belongings are transported each day by the organising team. As regards safety, each participant has a tracking beacon equipped with an SOS button. With the safety helicopter on stand-by, only several minutes are necessary to reach a competitor in distress.
Since 2006, the Titan Desert by Garmin has developed charity initiatives aimed at the local population. Once again this year, a truck will be heading from village to village as part of the “recovering hearing for a new life” programme. Since the launch of this programme, more than 1,000 people have benefitted from this initiative.