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Cyril Despres takes first stage victory in Dakar 2009
The KTM factory rider and 2007 Dakar winner at last had a trouble free day. He started at eighth in today's sixth stage with the Frenchman showing his classic skills to be the quickest over the dunes that launched it.
Indeed today the KTM factory riders were back where they are used to being - at the top of the leader board. Despres (Red Bull KTM) won his first stage of the 2009 edition 2'09 ahead of Marc Coma (Repsol KTM) with team mate Jordi Viladoms third (at 5'15). Alain Duclos was 18th (at 22'04). Overall Cyril takes a tiny bit of time back from Marc, who now leads Jonah Street (KTM) by 40'29, with the Frenchman Frétigné third at 47'30. Jordi Viladoms is fourth at 1h09'48 while Cyril moves up another place to seventh (at 1h33'59)
Cyril Despres (Red Bull KTM) first and seventh overall (at 1h33'59)
A good ‘normal' day of rally-raid. I didn't set out especially to win the stage, nor did I ride particularly hard, but being a short day I could ride normally on the mousse without having to worry about it too much. We started off in the same dunes that we finished in yesterday - except after last night's storm they were completely different, dark grey in colour with a black line where your wheel had been. I overtook Rodrigues, then Frétigné and Casteu, and by the time I came out of the dunes there were just three tracks in front. Eventually they was just one and seeing the amount of slide, how hard the rider in front of me was attacking, I was pretty sure it was Lopez. I guessed right, as I finished just behind him at the line.
Marc Coma (Repsol KTM) second (at 2'09) first overall
Coming into Mendoza was just crazy - for the last 20 kilometres there were thousands and thousands of people each side of the road. They are very friendly and knew who each rider was. Today the dunes were easier than yesterday because when they are wet they hold the weight of the bike better. Then after the dunes it was just a short, fast piste to the end of the special (cut short by the organisers after last night's storm). The only thing you had to watch out for was the puddles, some of which were quite deep. Once again my strategy was to stay out of trouble and preserve my lead - so from that point of view everything went fine.
Jordi Viladoms (Repsol KTM) 3rd (at 5'15) 4th overall (at 1h09'48)
After the rain the dunes were a little like a big moto-x track and fun to ride - all in all a pretty easy day. Then on the liaison I melted my mousse and had to stop and fit a tube - which I did all by myself! Fortunately there weren't too many people around. If it had happened near the town I don't know what I would have done - I would have been impossible to do anything with so many people.
Alain Duclos (Kaestle KTM) 18th (at 22'04) 54th overall (at 12h02'50)
Once again today I was obliged to ride with pain killers. I thought my back would be better after a couple of days, but unfortunately it isn't the case. I will have to go and see the doctors again tonight.
Shortened Stage Six
Organisers decided to reduce the distance of the timed section on Stage Six following a very tough Stage Five and complications caused by a flooded river ford on the original course. Competitors therefore ended in the village of La Junta at the foot of the Andes.
Competitors to cross into Chile in Stage Seven
Stage Seven, which brings the riders half way in their quest to conquer the first ever Dakar race held in south America takes riders from Ruiders Mendoza in Argentina down to the sea at Valparaiso on the Chilean coastline. It will be a day of challenges that starts with the "fesh fesh" a series of dunes very like the sands of the Sahara before rising to 3,000 m in the Andes during the technical routes.
Provisional results after sixth stage
1. Cyril Despres, France, KTM
2. Marc Coma, Spain, KTM
3. Jordi Viladoms, Spain, KTM
4. Francisco Lopez, Chile, KTM
5. David Fretigne, France, Yamaha
6. David Casteu, France, KTM
7. Helder Rodrigues, Portugal, KTM
8. Frans Verhofen, Netherlands, KTM
9. Henk Knuiman, Netherlands, KTM
10. Thomas Berglund, Sweden, KTM
18. Alain Duclos, France, KTm
Provisional overall standings
1. Marc Coma, Spain, KTM
2. Jonah Street, USA, KTM
3 David Fretigne, France, Yamaha
4 Jordi Viladoms, Spain, KTM
5 Pal Anders Ullevalseter, Norway, KTM
6 Helder Rodrigues, Portugal, KTM
7 Cyril Despres, France, KTM
8 Frans Verhofen, Netherlands, KTM
9. David Casteu, France, KTM
10. Henk Knuiman, Netherlands, KTM
54. Alain Duclos, France, KTM