Dakar 2010: KTM’s Despres extends overall lead; second in Stage Five


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KTM’s Cyril Despres reveled in the fast conditions of Stage Five of the Dakar as riders tackled 668 km with a long 483 km special through the foothills of the Atamaca Desert in Chile, finishing just 1’30 behind stage winner Chilean Francisco Lopez to extend his overall lead to 37’37

The second longest stage in the Dakar 2010 from Copiapo to Antofagasta was billed as one that would test riders’ concentration and stamina. It also had its share of drama. KTM’s Marc Coma, who lead the field at CP3 with more than five minutes advantage on Despres then lost half an hour with a damaged tyre before Italian KTM rider Luca Manca in a huge sporting gesture, allowed him to replace it with one of his. Coma, the 2009 winner hangs on to overall seventh ranking but trails arch rival Despres by 1h16’55”.

Run of bad luck for title holder Coma
Marc Coma was understandably disappointed after looking like he was set to win the stage and make up some of the deficit on the overall leader. “This year isn’t really my year,” he said. “But I have to try and stay positive and make the most of the rally.” Coma’s first blow came with a 22 minute penalty in the first timed stage for a speeding infringement. Then he had technical problems followed by today’s difficulties.

Stage five also saw solid results from KTM riders Ruben Faria of Portugal and Norwegian Pal Ullevalseter while French KTM rider Alain Duclos and Ullevalseter have also moved into the top five in the overall standings. The stage also ended the hopes of one of Despres’ toughest rivals when David Casteu took a bad fall from his bike and was subsequently airlifted out with a broken leg.

Demand for fitness and concentration
The day’s ride offered up fast sections, boulders, rocky off-road sections and an introduction to the soft Chilean terrain called fesh-fesh, challenges that Despres had predicted would need peak physical fitness and absolute concentration. Tomorrow riders have another challenging and fast day ahead of them that takes them inland from Antofagasta in a wide sweeping curve and down to Iquique where they finish the 418 km special back on the coast of the Pacific Ocean.  To add spice to the ride, they will tackle a steep sandy descent to the finish line at the Iquique bivouac.

Stage Five Results
1. Francisco Lopez, Chile, Aprilia
2. Cyril Despres, Andorra, KTM (at 1’30)
3. David Fretigne, France, Yamaha
4. Ruben Faria, Portugal, KTM
5. Pal Ullevalseter, Norway, KTM  
19. Marc Coma, Spain, KTM

Overall after Stage Five
1. Cyril Despres, Andorra, KTM
2. Francisco Lopez, Chile, Aprilia  (at 37’37)
3. .Helder Rodrigues, Portugal, Yamaha
4. Alain Duclos, France, KTM
5. Pal Ullevalseter, Norway, KTM
7. Marc Coma, Spain, KTM