Strange remote-spectating another event in the Southern hemisphere, where it is also summer but about 16 hours behind us time-wise. Anyways, here's a link to some updated news, especially for the Aussies:
Joan Barreda set a new record today. He became the first Dakar rider to reach an altitude of 4,300 metres on a special stage. This unofficial honour gave him an unbeatable preview of the spectacular landscapes on offer at this height in the Andes Mountain range. Although a keen geographer, it is most certainly the sporting performance he accomplished today that will satisfy the Spanish Rider. Impressive throughout the 243 km of a special stage slightly shortened in order to avoid unstable terrain on the first part of the route, “Bang Bang” again made a big impact, picking up his second stage victory this year after having opened the way for the majority of the day. With a lead of 4’41’’ over Cyril Despres on arrival at the bivouac which marks the mid-way point in the marathon stage, Barreda opened a gap of 13’04 over the title holder. The Frenchman can consider himself to have enjoyed a good stage: 8th in the general standings this morning, he is now the closest pursuer of the race leader. This tough stage has thus revealed the best technicians in the discipline. The day’s leading trio, like the podium in the general standings, was completed by Spaniard Marc Coma, who is 52” behind Despres.
Behind them, Alain Duclos and Chaleco Lopez are still in with a shout, less than 20 minutes behind, but there will already be plenty of disillusioned riders, even before they tackle the evening on their own without assistance. The dream is over for Ruben Faria, who has dropped out of the Dakar after a fall, as well as for Frans Verhoeven, who injured his shoulder. Still stuck 30 km from the finishing line almost two hours after the leaders finished, Portugal’s Paulo Gonçalves lost all hope of final victory and the highest step on the podium will be also inaccessible for Sam Sunderland and Juan Pedrero, who have still not yet finished at the time of writing. David Casteu can still hope for a place of honour, 22’ behind the race leader, as can Olivier Pain, who lies 36’ behind. It will however be very difficult for Helder Rodrigues, relegated to more than an hour of his team-mate Joan Barreda after just 3 stages!
The route to the isolated bivouac in Barréal also proved to be cruel in the quad category, which lost its emblematic champion. Marcos Patronelli was forced to drop out after suffering from dehydration. The hopes for the title have also evaporated for Lucas Bonetto, who was still stuck 100 km from the finishing line at the end of the afternoon. Rafal Sonik has benefitted from their misfortunes, inheriting both the stage win and the lead in the general standings.
Joan “Bang Bang” Barreda: “Today was really unbelievable, the conditions were extreme by any means. After the stage started, I could soon pass Chaleco Lopez to follow 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 full-throttle 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 high altitude and I needed to stay very calm to avoid mistakes. As I was over the highest point, the navigation downhill was getting very delicate, with many changes of directions and possibly wrong ways to follow on very steep trails. I stopped and made sure I was choosing the right way several times. Eventually it paid out to keep a cool head. The last part down in the valley was more easy and I put the hammer down again. I think today many riders will have extreme difficulties. I am happy I improved a lot my physical conditions training hard the last year.”
Much more of the drama here http://www.mcnews.com.au/dakar-2014-...-extends-lead/