He only started in 30th place, but by the time he got to Nazca he'd already left almost 20 other riders in the dust. Francisco López took his second stage win in three days at the 2013 Dakar.
Leading the field can prove costly. A strategic factor that must be taken into account in the Dakar. Yesterday's heroes are often today's losers. And this is exactly what happened to Joan Barreda and his fellow travellers towards the start of the stage. Yesterday's winner was followed by Pedrero, Fish and others as he carefully performed his duties. He avoided the most dangerous pitfalls by focusing 110% on the road book... meaning he could only maintain a leisurely pace. Meanwhile, the most experienced riders started quite far back but they seized their chance to overtake the entire field without having to wrack their brains navigating. And few are better at this than Francisco López: the leading group went through the km 39 checkpoint at no more than 50 km/h, but Chaleco blasted onwards at 100 km/h. The Chilean was rewarded with his eighth Dakar win, the second of this edition. But he didn't take over the lead. Cyril Despres is no slouch either when it comes to experience and strategy, and he's got a knack for recognising the key points where he can make the difference. Today's third place behind Chaleco and Paulo Gonçalves was enough for him to defend the overall lead with a margin of 2′51″ over López, 4′59″ over Pål Anders Ullevålseter and 6′03″ over Olivier Pain.