The final spurt is on! When two or three professional riders watch each other closely it is for a daring amateur rider to get the better of the pros. Jean de Azevedo managed to do so today. On his 660 KTM the Brazilian private rider overtook ...
The final spurt is on!
When two or three professional riders watch each other closely it is for a daring amateur rider to get the better of the pros. Jean de Azevedo managed to do so today. On his 660 KTM the Brazilian private rider overtook the factory riders and claimed today's stage. Jean was incredibly happy, "I'm thrilled! For the first time I have won a stage on the Dakar. A dream has come true. This is also a victory for my service team. Before the rally, my mechanics worked on my bike for nights on end. Now their hard labor has been rewarded. Also I like to add that the support I receive from KTM is excellent. I'm so happy now."
Chris Blais was in a similar mood. It is his first Dakar and his first rally through the African desert -- and the young American I doing a great job. Just like yesterday, Chris clinches a third place. "I am very satisfied," he claimed, "The route and the terrain were to my liking. This year I am here to learn and so far things have worked out very well. I got a bit closer to Dakar today. I definitely want to participate next year again." In the overall Blais claims a 9th spot.
Andy Caldecott rode along in the leading group until CP 2. It was than, that the mousse in his rear tire melted. "I had to replace the inner tube," explained the Australian in the bivouac, "A few precious minutes slipped away. But I'm not really disappointed to have lost time and a few spots in the rankings. I did well and I'm closing in on Dakar, the final destination."
Alfie Cox who ranks in fourth today, 34 seconds adrift, described the difficulties of the stage, "There were a lot of tracks from the trucks on the road today. One had to be extremely careful. But it was for the large potholes on the track that were really dangerous. Most of them were filled with dust and therefore it was tough to see them and in the worst case one didn't see them until it was too late."
Cyril Despres didn't want to take any risks, like some of the others as well. He was riding well thought out and restrained and was thus able to defend his leadership in the overall standing. But he lost a few minutes today. "I did my best today, but I'm having trouble focusing. I'm riding careful now. We want to keep our promise that a "guy in blue" will claim the victory and will stand on the podium in Dakar. Therefore I'm not going to risk anything."
It was already visible during today's race, the rally is coming to an end and the same can be said about the strength of the competitors. Everyone tries to rearrange one's strength for the final few stages. Nobody likes to ruin what he has accomplished so far by making a stupid mistake. Tomorrow's special runs for 225 km. But the riders will need to mobilize their spirit as well as their powers once more. The route passes through a savanna landscape and navigation is not quite that simple. At the end of the stage the riders will reach Dakar, the final destination.
Today's exciting question was: Would any of the competitors, who rank behind Cyril Despres, try to ride fast enough to attack his lead and therefore force the young Frenchman to react? And in doing so would he end up making mistakes?
The special was 529 km long and had a firm and therefore fast track in store. But it also offered lots of diversity, like small rivers, many villages which forced to riders to go slow as well as numerous winding paths through the African bush land.
Jean de Azevedo claimed a surprising stage victory today. The Brasilian KTM private rider had slowly and secretly inched his way up front. Until CP 3 at kilometer 416 David Fretigne, who finished in second, Chris Blais and Alfie Cox had been in the first group. The 30-year-old Azevedo overtook them on the last few kilometers of the special. He clocked the time at 5 hours, 10'56 minutes. David Fretigné on Yamaha was barely 10 seconds adrift. Chris Blais (Team KTM Red Bull USA) clinched a great third spot with only 23 seconds off the pace.