If the mileage for the day’s proceedings is taken in isolation, the Copiapo-Copiapo loop could pass for a quiet stroll in the desert. Nonetheless it may happen that for many the outcome of the rally could go a long way to being decided in the majestic dunes that dominate this stage. In some places, the depth of the dips formed by the mountains of sand could condemn those who wander astray in them to an endless series of maneuvers. During this day full of traps, there is a lot to lose… but also much to be won for those who are experts at crossing dunes. The most elementary advice on deflating tiers is probably the most valuable to follow. To add further spice to this stage, the bikers will set off in a grouped start, in rows of ten for the leading riders then in rows of 20.
As for our own adventure, Danielle and I, left for our room early, to catch up on some much needed sleep. I woke up at 7am to find a text message from Diego, with 7:30 am kick-stand up departure, to see the first bikers take off.
Jumped into gear, filled up the water bag, and rushed downstairs to the bike. Diego and I were the only ones there. The rest of the team chose to turn the day to an extra rest day, since we stayed in Copiapo that night.
Just as we were about to reach the Bivouac, the top Bikers were speeding the other direction. We turned around and followed them for 10 miles, and got to the start point with them.
There was hardly anyone there, and the organizers let us come and stand next to tee starting line. Diego and I were chatting with the number 1,2 & 3 racers, as they were getting lined up for the launch. The start was in groups. From the first 10 bikers, 9 lost their way just minutes into the stage, wand gave a rare opportunity for other racers to catch up with them.
After all the bikes left,the Cars started showing up. The crowed grew bigger, but Diego and I were still well positioned for a celebrity rub.
We then turned and started a chat with the top car racers. Diego was taking photos and chatting with Sainz, and I was doing the same with Al Attiyah. We saw them and sever al of the leading trucks take off, and left. It was a morning full of adrenaline and Dakar celebrity footage to show off with. Few seconds of footage of Coma and Depres’ start, from three feet away, and same with the leading Tuaregs.
We then did a run for a quick cup of coffee, and off we took back to the bivouac, to catch the front bikers on their way in.
I took advantage of being alone on the bike, and led us all the way, through some sand, to the end of the race. Once the leading bikes were through, Diego and I decided to get back to the hotel, and share our morning adventure with the team. As we rode down the hill, we mistakenly, joined the finish trail, and rode with a couple of competitors through the finish line. You can imagine the look on the organizers and local carabinieri, as we were rolling with our bikes through the crowed. For us, it was as close as we got to feeling the rush of the race. The crowed was cheering and we had big smiles on our face. Perfect end to a great morning. Diego and I exchanged a slide and fist greeting and were as content as can be.

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