Dakar at last
A Telefónica Dakar event loaded with drama, pain and sorrow, but South Africa's Alfie Cox, racing for the Gauloises KTM Team today not only protected his team's leading rider, but also ensured his third place overall.
This year's race was shorter, but, as the organisers promised more difficult than in recent years, but at long last, the caravan has arrived in Dakar.
Frenchman, Cyril Despres, received a 9 minute penalty last night, for speeding in the villages during the Kayes-Tambacounda stage, and was no longer in a comfortable lead over Spaniard Marc Coma, with a marginal 3'16" separating them.
As a result, Despres went all out today, to protect his position and he built a comfortable lead of 9'45" under the caring eye of Cox. Because Despres started behind Cox, he made up time before catching Cox, and they rode together for the rest of the stage, with the Spaniards Coma and Esteve Pujol shadowing them to the finish.
Asked about today's stage, Alfie Cox explained: "West Africa and specially the terrain in Senegal is very similar to that which we raced on in Botswana with the 1000 km Desert race."
The stage consisted mainly of two-track sand roads with lots of small villages and footpaths, making it easy to get lost. Although there was lots of dust, the breeze fortunately helped with visibility in the flat landscape.
"This race is not over yet, I am thankful to be here, but a lot can still happen tomorrow," said Alfie Cox after completing the 200 km liaison stage leading West through Senegal from Tambacounda to Dakar.