Nomads on Bikes Conquer the Sahara

Nomads on Bikes Conquer the Sahara

They spent their days in the saddle, sweating it out in the baking desert. Come nightfall, tents protected them from raging sandstorms. Find out how cyclists ploughed through the extreme GARMIN TITAN DESERT RACE 2019.

10. 5. 2019 Lifestyle SPORTS

As April gave way to May, over 670 riders from 21 countries stood in the Moroccan desert. Those who reached the finish line of the last leg had covered more than 600 kilometres of punishing sand-and-stone terrain. And trust us – for those who reached the finish, that was an enormous feat. Over the course of the six-day race, 136 cyclists dropped out.

Garmin Titan Race 2019

“The most powerful experience was easily having to find my way around the dunes in stage two. I really got bogged down there, and it took every last drop of strength to fight through the sand,” says Filip Adel, cycling in the colours of ŠKODA WeLoveCycling/Superior Velsbike, as he describes his take on the harshest part of the whole race.

Filip Adel
ŠKODA WeLoveCycling/Superior Velsbike team
Marek Rauchfuss
ŠKODA WeLoveCycling/Kross Bikeranch team

“This race has no comparison. It’s totally different. The stages are a test of navigational skills. Very little of the track is marked and you just have to pass the mandatory checkpoints. Otherwise everyone is free to make up their own route. That’s what stands it apart. The Spanish were best prepared for the race. They really had done their groundwork and they have plenty of experience under their belts,” says Marek Rauchfuss, competing for the ŠKODA WeLoveCycling/Kross Bikeranch team, as he assesses the extreme race.


Josep Betalú won for the fourth time in a row, while Anna Ramírez was unrivalled among the women. In the overall standings, Marek Rauchfuss and Filip Adel finished tenth and seventeenth respectively. Both marathon cyclists agree that, despite how well the race and facilities were organised in the circumstances, after a week in the desert they were looking forward to going back home to the Czech Republic. “I think it’s going to take me a while to recover. I can’t wait to see the Czech countryside in bloom and enjoy a cold beer in my back garden,” says Marek Rauchfuss after a week in the desert. “I’m looking forward to our home climate and a clean bed,” adds Filip Adel.

Besides the massive achievement of making it all the way through to the end of the race, he can also boast an individual victory, having won the ŠKODA Challenge, a dedicated race segment featuring a 14 km long climb with a target bonus at the top, in the fifth stage.

Garmin Titan Race 2019

The organising team, which is also responsible for events such as the Tour de France and Dakar Rally, has over four hundred people. Riders were accompanied on the route by 86 mechanics, 26 trucks, 12 vans, 4 buses, 2 helicopters, 1 plane and a catering team. The chefs cooked up almost 21,000 meals and distributed 63,000 litres of water throughout the race. The vast majority of participants found the going tough and had the assistance of 17 doctors and two ambulances on hand in case. The paramedics had their work cut out and saved the lives of exhausted riders on the track.


Race sport manager Manuel Tajada confirms that the extreme conditions throughout the race place huge demands on riders and logistics alike. “Twenty per cent of riders typically give up early on, and this year was no exception. It is then logistically challenging to transport all competitors who have dropped out back to the camp from the desert, but we have a well-established system that has proven the test of time. We dispatch all the cars, vans and trucks we have into the desert for the racers,” adds Manuel Tajada.

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