Day Four Dakar: Stage three victory and overall lead for KTM’s Despres


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869238ce2d Jordi Viladoms
KTM factory-supported rider Cyril Despres struck hard to take a commanding victory in the third stage of the 2010 Dakar on day four of the epic 9000 km ride through Argentina and Chile ride to move into overall lead in this motor sports classic.
Hitting the serious sand for the first time in the race and tackling some difficult technical sections, Despres, the 2009 World Rally Champion came in 10 minutes 40 seconds ahead of Helder Rodrigues in the stage and now has an overall lead of just over 10 minutes. Indeed Monday, which took the riders 441 km from La Roija to Flambala, shook up the standing order of the first days as the bikes also started their climb up into the Andes.

KTM’s Marc Coma who was knocked down to overall fourteenth on Day three after incurring a 22 minute speeding penalty in the first timed stage clawed back a few positions and is now eighth overall but still trails his arch rival Despres with a significant 42 minute deficit. Coma also experienced some technical problems on a day where conditions tested riders and machines. The winner of last year’s Dakar finished ninth in the third stage.

It was also bad luck also for KTM rider Spain’s Jordi Viladoms who took a tumble at the 70 km mark and was transported to the bivouac at Fiambala. Medical reports indicate no severe injuries for Viladoms but he will remain under observation as a precaution and must therefore draw a line under his Dakar efforts for 2010.

For the French born Despres, a veteran and multiple winner of the African editions, Monday’s ride was a taste of the terrain he is accustomed to in Africa. “This is one of those stages when you set out in the morning and you think to yourself, ‘ok, 180 km – that will be easy. We’ll soon be at the bivouac’. But there you are, we’ve just spent three hours battling on the bikes. It was a really African-like stage: physically tough with the heat, soft dunes and mechanical aspects to deal with. … it was a very complicated day”.

Stage Three Results
1. Cyril Despres, Andorra, KTM
2. Helder Rodrigues, Portugal, Yamaha (at 10’40)
3. Paolo Goncalves, Portugal, BMW
4. David Casteu, France, Sherco
5. Francisco Lopez, Chile, Aprilia
9. Marc Coma, Spain, KTM

Overall after Stage Three
1. Cyril Despres, Andorra, KTM
2. David Casteu, France, Sherco (at 10’03)
3. .Helder Rodrigues, Portugal, Yamaha
4. Luca Manca, Italy, KTM
5. Alain Duclos, France, KTM
8. Marc Coma, Spain, KTM

Images J. van Oers