Today's stage, part one of the first marathon stage with no team service, was characterised by the highest ever racing altitude in Dakar history. Facing the 6,960 m summit of the Anconcagua, America´s highest mountain, the motorcycle riders had to cross a pass at over 4,300 m altidute in trial-like conditions. As many riders are still on the way or got lost, Joan Barreda showed his brilliance in riding technique and navigation skills by winning the stage in front of Cyril Despres and Marc Coma, increasing his overall lead to over 13 minutes. Barreda won his second stage in three days.
Paulo Goncalves, together with a group of other riders, including his HRC teammate Sam Sunderland, lost two hours. They went downhill in a wrong canyon and could not go up again.
#3 Honda: Joan Barreda
Joan "Bang Bang" Barreda: "Today was really unbelievable, the conditions were extreme by any means. After the stage started, I could soon pass Chaleco Lopez to follow Sam Sunderland in the riverbeds until he took a wrong turn. Opening the track, the uphill sections got more and more steep and extreme. In trial-type conditions I had to stay full-throttle in second gear to make the steepest sections and keep it all together to make it over the loose rolling stones. It was very exhausting in the high altitude and I needed to stay very calm to avoid mistakes. As I was over the highest point, the navigation downhill was getting very delicate, with many changes of directions and possibly wrong ways to follow on very steep trails. I stopped and made sure I was choosing the right way several times. Eventually it paid out to keep a cool head. The last part down in the valley was more easy and I put the hammer down again. I think today many riders will have extreme difficulties. I am happy I improved a lot my physical conditions training hard the last year."