Laia Sanz: "I wasn't allowed to enter the gym in Saudi Arabia."

"The men's one was better, but I'm a woman and wasn't allowed in." The 18-time trial and enduro world champion ended her tenth consecutive Dakar. A record. 

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10 out of 10, and she's not done, yet. Once again Laia Sanz confirms her status, finishing her tenth consecutive Dakar on Friday. An incredible record, considering that the Spanish rider is the only one who is actively part of the motorcycle category to have succeeded. "If they would have told me ten years ago that this would have happened, I would not have believed it," the Gas Gas team rider stated while on the podium of the race after the last stage. "I'm very happy because, despite having had difficulties during the race, I managed to overcome them and reach the end, which was my goal."

Sanz closed her Dakar in an 18th position, almost 4 hours after the motorcycle category winner, Ricky Brabec. For the seventh consecutive time, she's in the top 20 of the competition, with a hint of regret for the numerous problems she had during the race.

Sanz is a true legend in rally racing, and she'll certainly be an important figure for the Dakar race in the coming years if she were to continue in Saudi Arabia, a country where the role of women in society is still very limited.

"The landscapes I saw in Arabia this year were incredible, but I missed the warmth of the audience we had in South America. All in all, I think it's positive for the race to continue in Arabia. There's still a lot to explore and discover. This was the first edition, and the organization has certainly learned many things this year and will apply everything to the next editions. As for the treatment reserved for women, I must say that I have not encountered any problems. I felt comfortable both at the bivouac (which is a world apart) and in the few times I had to deal with the locals. The only negative aspect is that, before starting the race, they didn't let me into the gym because I was a woman , and I had to go to another, much uglier and less equipped one, just for women."

One of the events that occurred during the two weeks in Saudi Arabia was the unfortunate death of Paulo Goncalves. Sanz suffered the blow, considering the second week of the race too complicated and dangerous, so she lessened her pace.

“The stages of the second week did not help us forget what happened to Paulo. It was very difficult to manage everything, psychologically, so I tried to go a a bit slower. Sometimes, you have to understand when going home becomes important."

On her return to Barcelona, the 18-time world champion received a big "welcome" from family and friends and now, with the team, she'll have to decide how to continue the season. “Right now, I just want to rest," she said . "I'm not thinking about anything else. In a few days, as what usually happens after the Dakar, we'll sit down to talk about what we'll be doing this year, choose the calendar, and prepare for the season."

 

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Translated by Leila Myftija

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