Stage Nine – Tucuman to Cordoba.
The longest stage of the race so far presented the rider with a completely new riding terrain moving away from the typical desert riding.
The longest special stage saw the competitors racing almost 500km, in the first of a gruelling few days leading up to the crossing back into Chile. The riders were presented with a terrain much more European than that of a typical desert stage and for most it was a pleasure to get away from the fesh fesh of the last few racing stages.
The special stage was split into two sections again and like the previous split stages, the section varied massively. The first section was a forest based firebreak stage that opened out into tracks across open moorland. Following a timed liaison section, the riders then road another fire break based stage, but far slipperier that the previous section, one that suited the southern European riders perfectly.
The slippery terrain caught many of the sports elite out, with several crashing heavily. Once again Simon showed his solid and consistent riding as he held a solid pace all day to take 64th on the stage, moving him up another couple of places too 66th overall.
Simon Pavey –
“Today was relatively uneventful for me, but on Dakar that’s always a good thing. Today was long, really long. We rode for over 12 hours solid and tomorrow is going to be the same again. Everything was working well, the bike was great and it was good to get through unscathed.
I really enjoyed the first half of the special, it was more technical, and riding in forest and moorland was like where I live in Wales. I really enjoy that type of riding and it was really good fun.
The second half was chalk and cheese to the first half, it was more tracks and they were unbelievably slippery. I can’t describe it at all, it’s not bike setup or anything like that, and everyone around me was struggling like mad too. A few guys went down badly, the ground was hard and it would have hurt to fall on. I don’t have the bravery for riding firebreaks really fast, it’s just not in my nature, so I didn’t push hard. A few guys passed me on that section, but it’s not sensible to push hard in this race when you aren’t comfortable.
We’re only just over half way and the hardest stages are yet to come. Tomorrow, the two stages around Fiambala and at Copiapo are going really test us so I am going to ride my own race.”
Simon’s teammate Don Hatton is also in good spirits following his dramatic ordeal involving a truck. After travelling with the assistance team for two days he flew to Santiago to meet his family and will meet up with the team again for the last few days of the race.
Tomorrows stage is set be very similar to stage nine as the race turns north toward the famous city of La Rioja. Over 600km awaits the riders on what is set be one of the hottest stages yet.
Simon Pavey – 64th - 07:04:15
Simon Pavey – 66th - 32:43:28
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