On the way back
THE LOOP AROUND COPIAPO DID NOT CHANGE THE OVERALL RANKING. A REMARKABLE PERFORMANCE OF FARRES TAKES HIM TO THE 4TH PLACE IN THIS STAGE. TOMORROW THE DAKAR WILL BE BACK TO ARGENTINA THOUGH PASO DE SAN FRANCISCO.
COPIAPO -- The ninth stage of the Dakar 2011 was almost like a rest day. A loop traced behind the dunes of Copiapo, with 235 timed km. As last year, the start was given in lines, first the best ten of yesterday, followed by waves of 20 riders every five minutes. It was wonderful desert scenery and everyone looked at each other trying to control their rivals.
And after it, the overall ranking did not change much: The three same riders close to the podium did not dare to attack. Coma and Despres also were calmed today, and so was Chaleco, who run with his team mates Alain Duclos and Gerard Farres.
At the finish line, Lopez obtains the 10th time behind Marc Coma, while Despres was 7th. This is an excellent position to face tomorrow 's stage, which should be very exhausting even tough is only 176 km long. Nevertheless, riders must cross the white dunes of Fiambala, where many riders were forced to drop out of the race last year.
Gerard Farres started in the second group, joined the first and marked the 4th best time of the timed section. Alex Zanotti, after yesterday 's fall, suffered of pain in his shoulder. He also run out of gas a few kilometers before the finish line. It has been a hard race for the Italian rider.
Tomorrow the rally goes back to Argentina by the Paso San Francisco, located at 4800 above the sea level. Then, there will be a 176 km special, but before reaching the bivouac of Chilecito, riders must complete 776 km.
Francisco Lopez: "It was like going for a nice ride in the dunes. No one took the initiative today, I saw that Coma and Despres were looking at me constantly, and at a certain point, they stopped. So did I. There was more to lose than to win, and the important thing is that I have a great starting position for tomorrow."