It was the first day of the marathon stage, Riaan finished 11th on the stage just 12 minutes 15 seconds behind stage winner Juan Barreda, improving his overall position again to 13th. Riaan said the stage was not too technical, the roads were tight and twisty and in good condition. The last 20 Kilometers were muddy and in they rode up a river. He spent most of the day riding behind Olivier pain, cleverly ensuring that he didn’t make any navigational mistakes. The entire stage was at high altitude and they will slept at 3500m,
Juan Barreda won the stage 4 minutes and 3 seconds ahead of KTM Red Bull Factory rider Marc Coma. Kuba Pryzgonski finished 5TH and Jordi Viladoms in 10th, moving him 3rd overall.
Monday 13th January: Unyuni to Calama
Liaison section: 24 km Special stage: 462 km Liasion section: 215 km
Today we crossed the Andes and the border into Chile, it was also the second half of the second marathon stage. Broadlink KTM’s Riaan van Niekerk rode another blinder of a day finishing the stage in 7th today, proving that he has the pace to stay with the world’s best rally riders. He was not affected by the altitude as much as some of the others but still suffered from a headache and some nausea, throughout the stage. By CP1 he was laying second overall just 48 seconds behind stage leader Cyril Despres. Riaan explained that the first section of the race suited him down to the ground, it was rough and bumpy, where the latter half of the 462 km stage was much faster and he rode at a more cautious pace to ensure the arrival at Calama without any incidences.
The bivouac we are in at the moment is a living hell, it is situated in the middle of nowhere, in the sand and it is always windy. There is no escape from the fine dust and sand and you have to wear goggles when you walk around. The riders are weary, the second marathon stage has taken it’s toll. Marc coma has been a bit sick and has lost his voice at the moment, he is still controlling the race at the moment with a 38 minute and 8 second lead over danger man Barreda. Alain Duclos lost some 35 minutes this morning due to a mechanical issue, securing Jordi Viladoms’s spot on the podium for now. The stages in Chile are going to be fast and dusty, with lot’s of tricky navigation, Riaan will stay focused and concentrate on riding smoothly and not making costly navigational errors
Brett Cummings finished in 29th today, he suffered a crash and has hurt his leg and will go for a few stitches under his eye. He is tired but will be ready for tomorrow.
Cyril despres won the stage, 2 minutes and 9 seconds ahead of Juan Barreda on the Honda. Marc Coma finished 3rd just 2 minutes 15 seconds off the leader.
Tuesday 14th January: Calama to Iqueque
Liaison section: 37 km Special stage: 422 km
The 2014 Dakar will reach its most northern point in Iqueque, where competitors will see the ocean for the first time. Riders will once again experience the Atacama dunes after the first part of the special stage. Dune specialists will be in their element with 150 kilometers of dunes. The finish will take the competitors down a massive dune with a 3 kilometer descent into the bivouac.