Dakar Rally – The Route
Fourteen days covering over 8000 kilometres across South America – the 2014 edition of the Dakar Rally is not for the faint hearted. Starting in Rosario, Argentina on Sunday January 5th, the race will see riders navigate their way up Argentina, venture into Bolivia for the first time before racing back down through Chile to the finish line in Valparaiso on Saturday January 18th. Here’s an overview of what they can expect to face…
- Stages 1-6
- Dates: 05.01 – 10.01
Argentina almost takes up the first week of competition in this year’s race and covers everything from rocky mountain tracks to sand dunes. After ‘easing’ riders in with an 800km ride on stage one – 180km is timed special stage – stage two offers the first taste of sand.
But it’s stages three and four that are expected to separate the men from the boys. The first of the marathon stages will put everybody through their paces as they cross the Pre-Andes – climbing as high as 4,300 metres. Altitude and fatigue will become a big factor in determining the outcome of these stages.
Managing that, coping with no outside assistance, while also sleeping under the stars in tents is where guys like Despres, Coma, Lopez and Goncalves tend to shine. With another two stages and 1300 kilometres still to contest, everyone will be glad to reach Saturday’s rest day in Salta on January 11.
- Stages 7 & 8
- Dates: 12.01 – 13.01
Bolivia will be new ground for everyone involved in the race, as it’s the first time the Dakar Rally has ventured into this territory. It’s also expected to be one of the most physically demanding for the riders as they deal with extreme altitudes of 4000 metres and the second of the marathon stages. Starved of oxygen, this will be no place for the weak. After camping overnight along the edge of the Salar de Uyuni – the world’s largest salt flat at 10,500 square kilometres – riders then begin to make their way towards Chile.
- Stages 9 – 13
- Dates: 14.01 – 17.01
With the race entering Chile, riders begin the final third of the race. The extreme altitude and marathon stages are long behind them and if they can survive the dunes the end will be in sight.
Stage 9 – Calama to Iquique – is one to watch. It’s the first time competitors get a glimpse of the Pacific Ocean as they cross the Atacama Dunes. With 400 kilometres to cover it’s actually the final three that will be remembered most as riders face a 30% gradient descent to the finish.
Offering no signs of wavering, organisers up the anti on stages 10 and 11. With a combined 1200km of sand dunes and fesh fesh to contest the outcome of these two stages will reveal who stands a chance of finishing on the podium in Valparaiso.