Marin de Saint-Exupéry wins the Atlas Mountain race
HUNT Beyond rider, Marin de Saint-Exupéry, has won the 1200km Atlas Mountain Race in Morroco, setting a new FKT in the process. The Atlas Mountain race is a self-supported bikepacking race beginning in Marrakesh and finishing in Agadir crossing the High Atlas mountains and skirting the Sahara desert. The off-road route traverses rugged offroad tracks with long stretches without resupply or water.
Despite his relatively young age (24), Marin rode the race with a maturity that comes with many years of ultra experience. The incredibly strong lineup meant that the race set off at a fast, potentially unsustainable, pace. Despite this Marin kept his cool riding a sensible race and pacing strategy, eventually taking the lead with under 400km to go.
After the race, we caught up with Marin to get the inside scoop on his ride.
Congratulations Marin, tell us about the race, how did it go down?
There were many fast guys lined up at the start, including Jutinas who went particularly hard. However I was able to ride my own race and make my move at the end. On the last day everything changes, Justinas had a crash, Phillipe cut his tyre and Johan had to stop due to saddles sores so I found myself left in front and then I just had to finish the job.
What was the highlight of the route for you?
The colonial road was a highlight for most riders, however I rode that section at night. But I could feel the beauty of the road even under the light of the stars. The night sky is so dark in the desert so there are far more stars visible than in Europe, it was incredible.
How did you deal with resupply?
The race organisers provided a cue sheet with resupply points so it was quite manageable. However there was one particularly long stretch of road through the desert with no water, I had to find some untreated water from a village tap, it was quite risky but it worked.
What bike did you use?
I used my MTB for this route. I decided not to fit aerobars to save some weight, which was a mistake in hindsight. I used a set of custom Hunt carbon dynamo wheels which allowed me to charge my devices and power my lights through the long nights. Everything worked really well and I had no mechanical issues.
This is my 3rd of race of the year so I am quite tired now. I will take a month off my bike and then will start making plans for next year.
Tell us about your journey to the start?
I travelled overland to Marrakesh from Switzerland. It was really nice to cycle and catch the ferry to Morroco. Winning the race at the end of the trip was the cherry on the top and I am really looking forward to doing more races in this manner in the future.