Dakar Stage 3, Marathon Day 1: Barreda wins with altitude record
Today's stage, part one of the first marathon stage with no team service, was characterized with the highest ever racing altitude in Dakar history. Facing the 6.960 m summit of the Anconcagua, americas highest mountain, the motorcycle riders had to cross a pass at over 4.300 m altidute in trial conditions. As many riders are still on the way or got lost,
Joan Barreda showed his brilliance in riding technique and navigation skills by winning the stage in front of Despres and Coma, increasing his overall lead to over 13 minutes, winning his second stage in three days.
Paulo Goncalves, together with a group of other riders, including his HRC team mate Sam Sunderland, arrived with over 2 hours delay, as the went downhill in a wrong canyon and could not go up again.
Joan "Bang Bang" Barreda: "Today was really unbelievable, the conditions extreme in any direction. After the stage started, I could soon pass Chaleco Lopez, and followed Sam Sunderland in the riverbeds until he took a wrong turn. Opening the track, the uphill sections got more and more steep and extreme. In trial-type conditions, I had to stay fullgas in second gear to make the steepest sections and keep it all together to make it over the loose rolling stones. It was very exhausting in the extreme altitude, and I needed to stay very calm to not make mistakes. As I was over the highest point, the navigation downhills was getting very delicate, with many changes of directions and possibly wrong ways to follow on very steep trails. I stopped and made sure doing the right way several times, and and the end it payed out to keep a cool head. The last part down in the valley was more easy, and I opened the gas again. I think today many riders will have extreme difficulties, and I am happy I improved a lot my physical conditions training hard the last year."