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Strategy was the key during five hours against the clock

  • The HIMOINSA Team riders complete a stage characterised by tactics, with the goal of conserving both bike and body for the marathon stage, which will entail the rally’s longest timed special without assistance.
  • Gerard Farrés makes good use of his expertise to defend his position inside a Top 10 where there are many changes yet again.
  • Dani Oliveras keeps his pace up and finishes another stage among the day’s fastest, taking an important leap in the overall.

Uyuni (Bolivia). After the day off in La Paz, Dakar 2018 has resumed its way into the second half of the race. Additionally, it does so with one of the biggest challenges of this 40th edition: the La Paz-Uyuni-Tupiza marathon stage.

In just two days, the riders will cross the Bolivian country from North to South without receiving assistance from their mechanical teams. Today, the objective was to be as fresh as possible at the finish line in Uyuni, after completing one of the longest specials of the whole rally: 425 kilometers in which the abundant rain, mud and altitude (again with passages over 4,000 meters) have been the main obstacles to overcome. Once across the finish line, the riders will spend the night alone, with no more spare parts than those they have been able to carry with them, and having to repair the bikes themselves to face the second half of this marathon stage, where an even longer 498 kilometer long special awaits them.

Therefore, strategy was one of the key factors to this seventh stage, where the management work from Miguel Puertas and the enormous experience of Gerard Farrés, has allowed the rider to defend his position in the Top 10 in a day filled with constant movement in the leaderboard.

Equally smart and cunning was Dani Oliveras who, while continuing to ride at the pace of the Top 10 for the third consecutive day, which has led him to climb four positions in the general classification, has managed to conserve his forces and his mechanics to get to Uyuni in great condition and face tomorrow’s second half of this extreme stage.

The rest of the HIMOINSA Team applied the same approach, with the objective for Marc Solà, Iván Cervantes and Rosa Romero being to reach Uyuni’s finish line without complications and without giving up time in their respective classifications.

Gerard Farrés (@gerardfarres): “We had to endure a lot of rain, cold and mud, and in such a long stage with more than 400 kilometers of timed section, this can be an unbearable handicap, both for the rider and for the bike. The engines also suffer much more now, riding at altitude, tonight we won’t have mechanical assistance and tomorrow’s special is even longer. If there was a day in which it was key to ride with a cool head, that was today. Got better as the stage progressed, coming back to defend our position in the overall and having a good starting position for tomorrow. That was the goal.”

Dani Oliveras (@danioliveras_21): “I started very strong, I think I got fifth in the first WP, but the special today was very long (in my case it was upwards of 5 and a half hours), the conditions were very difficult and tomorrow is even more so. So, it was very important to get to Uyuni, conserve the tires and, above all, not having to spend the night doing repairs to the bike. I think we rode a great stage. We have managed our pace and our strength very well for tomorrow, and doing this close to the stage’s Top 10 and breaking into the Top 15 overall.”

Classification: Stage 7 (provisional *)

1st J. Barreda (5: 11.10)

2nd A. Van Beveren (+02.51)

3rd K. Benavides (+08.02)

12th Gerard Farrés (+20.07)

14th Dani Oliveras (+22.04)

*** Marc Solà (pending arrival at the finish line)

*** Iván Cervantes (pending arrival to the finish)

*** Rosa Romero (pending arrival to the finish)

General Classification (provisional *)

1st K. Benavides (16: 33.20)

2nd A. Van Beveren (+01.57)

3rd M. Walkner (+02: 50)

9th Gerard Farrés (+33.27)

14th Dani Oliveras (+1: 23.21)

*** Marc Solà (pending arrival at the finish line)

*** Iván Cervantes (pending arrival to finish)

*** Rosa Romero (pending arrival to finish)

Next stage: Uyuni – Tupiza