The Titan Tropic Cuba is a new version of the classic mountain bike race, the Titan Desert, held for over a decade now in Morocco’s deserts, dunes and mountains. The race will debut in western Cuba December 5-10, with the participation of up to 150 cyclists
At first glance, the name doesn’t convey much, but the Titan Tropic Cuba is nothing more, or less, than a replica of the traditional mountain bike race, the Titan Desert, held for over a decade now in Morocco’s deserts, dunes and mountains. The race will debut in western Cuba December 5-10, with the participation of up to 150 cyclists representing about a dozen countries, including several winners and medalists of previous Titan Desert races.
In six stages, cyclists will cover hundreds of kilometers, traveling through a variety of tropical landscapes surrounded by endemic flora and fauna, on broad lanes and narrow trails in the Sierra del Rosario mountains and Viñales Valley, locations which include an internationally recognized Biosphere Reserve and a World Heritage Site.
STARS TO FOLLOW
Diego Tamayo (Colombia-32) left his homeland in 2001 to try his luck in international cycling, in the United States, Spain and Italy, but finally discovered his true love in mountain biking. He won the 2015 Morocco Titan Desert.
Ibon Zugasti (Spain-43) has competed in mountain biking events since 1993, and first tried the Titan race in 2005. He is one of the most experienced competitors and finished second in this year’s Titan Desert.
Josef Ajram (Spain-37) is one of the most enigmatic athletes to arrive in Cuba. The Catalonian writer also works as a stock trader in Madrid and Barcelona, loves sports, and has participated in triathlons and other bicycle races, in addition to Ironman competitions. He took second place in the 2006 Titan Desert.
Luis L. Pinto (Portugal-35) is the most accomplished cyclist participating. The lawyer left this profession in 2011, to devote himself to mountain biking full time, and trains with Spanish champion Roberto Heras, who has won the Titan Desert four times. Pinto won three medals in a row in the race, between 2012 and 2014, taking the gold this last year.
SIX LEGS THROUGH DIFFERENT LANDSCAPES
1. Prologue: Havana (35 km). The race kicks off in a totally urban environment, along emblematic city boulevards, passing through points of great cultural significance, including the Plaza de la Revolución, the Malecón and the Plaza de la Catedral, the official starting point. This leg gives the racers the opportunity to acclimatize to the tropical weather.
2. Havana-Las Terrazas (76 km). The colorful caravan will begin its extreme adventure on asphalt, as the cyclists leave the capital, but once in the province of Artemisa they will travel through dense woods in an area used for military training. They will race through the streets of the unique rural community of Las Terrazas before tackling a steep ascent to this leg’s finish line.
3. Las Terrazas-Soroa (65 km). This stretch does not present highly technical challenges, with both the beginning and end involving slight descents. Most interesting is the bumpy ride to the Castle of the Clouds on a hill overlooking Soroa, amidst lush vegetation.
4. Soroa-Viñales (90 km). For most, this is the top section along the route, with a paved stretch before a rugged, often muddy trail through dense woodlands. The most technical leg comes next, with rocky sections requiring a constant change of pace. Lovers of spectacular landscapes will enjoy the arrival to Viñales, circling a lake and riding along narrow, shaded trails.
5. Viñales-Viñales (70 km). The Valley’s beauty will unfold before cyclists as they race along pleasant roads, starting in a mountainous area and proceeding toward the town of Viñales. The high point of this section will be the climb up to the Valley overlook, for a checkpoint stop, with a last look at the exuberant vegetation before heading toward a different landscape for the final stretch.
6. Viñales-Cayo Jutías (55 km). By this point, the competitive outcome will most likely be already decided. Cyclists will travel along broad trails through a Mediterranean forest, created for the extraction of lumber. Once they reach the island’s northern coastline, riders will enjoy pedaling with water on both sides of the route, before reaching the sandy paradise of Cayo Jutías, and the final kilometers of the Titan Tropic Cuba.