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Laia Sanz, experienced Dakar rider

19/01/13 - 23:05

She lived through the two faces of the Dakar this year. Having eased into some sort of routine following two consecutive 39th-place finishes in 2011 and 2012, she aimed higher for her third edition. A certain level of experience, an ability reflected in her multiple trial and enduro world championships and a stunning start to the rally (12th in the eighth stage) seemed to herald a Top 30 finish for the Catalan. "It all started to go wrong in the stage from Tucumán to Córdoba. An engine part broke down and my lieutenant Miguel Puertas had to tow me to the finish line." After reaching the bivouac very late (towards 5:30 am), the champion found herself face-to-face with the other side of the Dakar coin: "We planned to recuperate with Miguel in the next stage, to take it calmly and ease back into the race. So we decided to ride together. Thank goodness we did! It turned out the navigation unit had been damaged by the previous day's falls. It was another bad day at the office for us. I really came to think everything was lost. We slept six hours in two days. This is also the Dakar!"

Laia Sanz plummeted down the classification but managed to finish 93rd after finding her pace again in the last four stages: "I'm happy because the entire team helped me to climb back to around the thirtieth place in the last few stages. This shows I have the potential to do better next year. But it's true that the field's got very strong. A host of new, very fast riders have come to the race. With what I know now, I could have finished in the Top 20 in 2011."

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