Dakar 2017, Stage 10: Metge fastest as leaders come unstuck
Honda's Michael Metge took his first Dakar Rally stage win on Thursday, as the overall classification's leading riders all dropped significant amounts of time.
The challenging Chilecito-San Juan test featured 449 timed kilometres, split by a 90km neutralisation zone, making it the 2017 edition's longest following the cancellation of Wednesday's "Super Belen" stage.
For the bike race, the stage had an immediate impact, as leader Sam Sunderland (KTM) gave up almost 17 minutes to nearest rival Pablo Quintanilla (Husqvarna) at the first waypoint.
Just as fast, Quintanilla's victory chances were then torpedoed as the Chilean first got lost off-route and then had to stop to address a mechanical problem on his bike, giving up an hour altogether.
He then suffered a dizzy spell later on in the stage and was picked up by the medical team, his Dakar challenge coming to an end.
The riders who had made up the rest of the top five overnight - Yamaha's Adrien van Beveren and KTM pair Matthias Walkner and Gerard Farres – all lost time in the stage, allowing Sunderland to increase his lead.
The Brit is now up to 30 minutes over new nearest rival Walkner, with Farres now third, a further eight minutes behind. Van Beveren has slipped to fourth, 41 minutes off the lead.
Meanwhile, as the lead bikes struggled, those further down the order picked up the slack, arranging a close battle for stage victory.
Heading into the neutralised zone, 11 riders were within five minutes out front, headed by Honda's Ricky Brabec.
But, as the American stopped 12km from the finish, it was Metge who celebrated victory at stage end, narrowly ahead of Honda teammate Joan Barreda - who has gone from ninth to fifth overall, 53 minutes behind Sunderland - and KTM privateer Stefan Svitko.
UPDATE: A one-hour penalty for Metge for missing a waypoint has stripped the Frenchman of his maiden Dakar stage win, instead giving Barreda his third win of the rally and the 17th of his career.
It drops Metge from ninth overall to 17th, promoting Honda's Franco Caimi to ninth and Svitko - who has been taken to hospital after collapsing from exhaustion after the stage - to 10th.
Bikes standings after Stage 10:
|4||Adrian van Beveren||Yamaha||+41m47s|
|8||Xavier de Soultrait||Yamaha||+1h32m55s|
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