Everyone was waiting for Argentina and the starter it served up on the stage to Belen didn't disappoint. There was no shortage of drama as the Dakar continued. Having already mentioned Adrien Van Beveren's retirement, due to a crash three kilometres from the end of Tuesday's stage, we also saw mistakes being made in the calculation of the route by some of the big names, something which has really shaken up the classification.
The only guy to get it right was Matthias Walkner, who followed the road book perfectly to set a time of 4 hours, 52 minutes and 26 seconds. For the Austrian, this first stage win has a special flavour, because it allows him to take the overall lead in the RAID, almost 40 minutes ahead of his closest rival, or rather Joan Barreda (+39’42”).
While it's also true that the Spaniard has made up several places in the standings, the gap starts to look considerable. The error in calculating the route came at a price for the Honda rider and the same goes for Kevin Benavides, 41’23” from Walkner, after finishing only 22 seconds from the front yesterday. And what about Toby Price, with 50’18” to make up, or Antoine Meo, who crossed the line one hour behind.
Basically, riders paid dearly for today's mistakes, but there is still everything to play for, with four stages still to come, two of which without support. Aside from Walkner, stage ten was kind to the Husqvarna of Quintanilla (+11’35), second across the line ahead of a surprising Gerard Farres (16’21”), who moves up into fourth place overall.
Also taking a step up on Tuesday were José Cornejo and Andrew Short, in fourth and fifth place respectively. As for the Italians, Jacopo Cerutti proved quickest, 20th ahead of Maurizio Gerini. There was bad luck for Alessandro Botturi, who crashed and must wait to see if he can continue with stage eleven.
CLASSIFICATION AFTER STAGE 10