5th January 2011
The fifth stage of the Dakar 2012 is the last one in Argentina. The stage was shortened in 79 kilometers and finished in Fiambala. Lopez and his Aprilia are ninth and remain fourth overall, two minutes away from Rodrigues. Duclos faced problems today, but he made it to the bivouac.
FIAMBALA - Today, the Dakar watched its fifth stage and the last in Argentina, between Chilecito and Fiambala. The reddish landscape shades to gray and white, the colors of the famous dunes of the village in the province of Catamarca. In the map, the stage was dreadful, and for the previous years it always shook the scene. This year, the temperature was low and it diminished its well-known difficulties of the fesh-fesh and soft sand. Today?s special was planned for 265 kilometers of timed section and it was shortened to 186 due to the damage caused by the rain.
Francisco Lopez main goal was avoid troubles in the stage. Tiredness starts to come out and the lack of training (he got back on the saddle only some months ago) advised him not to stay in the unreachable pace of Coma and Despres.
Chaleco had some navigation problems today at the beginning of the stage, and lost time while searching a waypoint. Then, he kept a steady pace during the whole stage without taking useless risks. By the end, he got the ninth best time, and took back two minutes on his direct rival Helder Rodrigues, who last year slipped to the podium at the last minute.
Now, Lopez is fourth only one minute away from the Portuguese rider and tomorrow he will cross the Paso San Francisco, located 4800 m from the sea level, to enter his home country. And from then, the champion of Giofil Aprilia Racing Team will be in his favorite playground.
It was a hard race day for Alain Duclos. The French-Malian rider fell at kilometer 32. The series of holes made hard to keep the handlebars under control and the GPS and the road-book were damaged with the incident. Duclos finished 41 minutes behind the stage winner, Cyril Despres, takes the 31st place of the stage and is now 18th overall.
Tomorrow, the Dakar will arrive to Chile. There will be a special stage of 247 kilometers that will take competitors directly to the bivouac located in Copiapo.
Francisco Lopez: "I did not appreciate this stage. The ground was harsh and we risked lots on it. I lost time at the beginning looking for a waypoint, I turned right and the device confirmed the passage. I continued riding when I noticed that with my lack of training it is impossible to keep the pace of Coma and Despres. The podium is still in my possibilities."
Alain Duclos: "I was in the dust of Pedrero and trying to reach him when I found many holes one after the other and at a moment I couldn?t control the bike. The consequences of the accident: broken GPS and the command of the road-book. I had to role the road-book by hand and follow other rider?s dust. It was really hell, and I got trapped in the sand twice. At least, I made it and I am now in Fiambala."