Stage 6 - Antofagasta to Iquique
Thursday, January 7
Quotes of the stage
Marc Coma: "I'm staying motivated"
It was a tough stage. On km 29 there was a hidden way point. A lot of riders took it on the right, but with the dust and having left after
the others, I really had a hard time. I kept a good pace. It was a very hard day actually. I think I must have passed quite a number of riders but there was so much dust... it was tricky. I am happy to have reached the finish without problems. I said I now wanted to win the day-to-day race after all the trouble I had and enjoy the race. Then we'll see. Each day I'll start the stage motivated. I don't care about the others. I have to be realistic it is hard... even impossible almost. But it does not mean the raid is over and I can enjoy a vacation!
David Fretigne: "I will not give up"
On km 29, we had to enter a rio. Before that I went off-track several times. I was obviously in the wrong rio. I really got lost. I rode 7 or 8 km more and when I realized that my notes were wrong, I turned around and met all of them: Chaleco, Ullevalseter... Everyone had gone the wrong way. We had all taken the same track. They went one way and I went the other way. I wanted to take some time and check the roadbook. I found the track gack right after they did by the way. But at least I found it and I was in line with my notes. It was very important because I had a GPS point to catch. As soon as I could start my GPS I was able to get back on track. Then I was behind the others... in the dust but I went as fast as I could. I passed a few. I finish fourth today. It's not bad. It's damage control. Cyril (Despres) is riding smooth and easy now. All he has to do is control the situation. He is very very fast though. We are all trying so hard to catch up. But I will not give up. Everyday has new turns of events so I have to try and gain back some time and focus to go even faster. Today the end was spectacular. What an incredible dune slide! We had a great view of the finish line. The dune must have been 2 or 3 km long and at the bottom there were little ants waiting for us. It was like the endurance race of Le Touquet: full of banners and signs, full of supporters encouraging you... To take a dip like this one, you have to keep speeding so the front of the bike does not dig into the sand. You have to sit back, lean back and keep a little bit of torque and power to stay in motion. It is easier on the front of the bike that stays on course and stabilizes.
Cyril Despres: "Marc Coma is still my main contender"
It was a fairly trap-less stage even if it did not start too mal. This morning I felt sick to my stomac and the day felt like it was going to be complicated. But again, it was a stunning stage... just look at the finish with the big dune slide. Absolutely incredible! I forgot my hands were hurting and my butt too. I forgot all my aches. I saw Chaleco's dust on km 25 at the first change in direction. He is from Chile, he won yesterday's special stage and he's home. He made a small mistake; that can happen to anyone. I stayed focused. The end of the stage was complicated because there were 30km of jumps. In the end it makes feel sick. It was almost like bobsleigh. 2', 5' or even 2hours, Marc Coma is still my main contender.
Marcos Patronelli: "I can go even faster"
It was a fantastic stage and a fast one too in the beginning. After CP2 and CP3 it got a little complicated and even a bit dangerous. But it was better after that and the stage finish was this fabulous slide. I liked the stage. I am very happy. I just heard that I won today. I am really thrilled. I am ahead and all is fine. I can go even faster. But the race is still long. The Dakar is tough and what matters is first to reach the end of the raid.
Carlos Sainz: "No problem today"
We stayed behind Miller for a long time... in the dust. Then I was able to pass him. No problem today except that half of the stage was raced in the dust. But that last drop was incredible. You can see the whole sea. It is very very steep. It's quite something... really...
Stephane Peterhansel: "Getting as close as possible to the Top 5 or to the Top 3"
I am surprised we did such a great time because we spent 200km in other drivers' dust. But for the last 150km we kept a good pace and navigated well. We have downgraded our ambitions of course. We were going for victory but now it's more complicated. So I want to drive as fast as possible and take the X3 to the best possible position in the standings. We might even be in the top five or in the top three; we will see. I thought that the record of stage victories was between me and Vatanen, but I heard that Chagin is now at 53. So we'll play with that even if it's not what matters the most.
Guerlain Chicherit: "I drove fast all day"
I wanted to try something so I started really fast up to km 25 where we got lost. We must have lost 15 to 20 min in there and then we were in everybody's dust so it was a bit hard. Towards the end, I found my teammates and we helped each other out; then I drove in front and it was fun. I loved the stage today; I had a great feeling about it. By the way, I drove fast all day but with 20 min lost, it was tough. Anyway, another stage is over and we made it to the end; it's already something. The standings... I have decided not to look at them anymore. With what happened to me on the first day, I have to drive and move forward. I am trying not to loose too much time and not to take too much risk. I am waiting for the others to have problems too. It is bound to happen. Even the winner of the Dakar will have issues at one moment or another. What matters the most is crisis management.
Vladimir Chagin: "Today, we could have lost the raid"
Yesterday and today's stages were very tough, very hard to deal with. There was a lot of dust and a lot of potholes. Today it was also even more difficult for trucks. We could have lost the raid with all the difficulties of this stage. When I saw the final drop I thought that I had to cross it real quick to be able to enjoy a nice cool beer.