Dakar 2018 | Small mistake, big fall

My stories / 5. February 2018

This year’s Dakar saw no shortage of falls, even from bikes of the best riders. These rally races are, of course, the toughest in the world but the reason for not finishing them may have lay elsewhere.

“There was a discussion going among the competitors that this Dakar was mainly about the dangers. Some of them were completely missing from the roll book, especially those in Peru where a lot of riders broke down.”

For Števo, it was the tenth stage that would be his undoing. It was challenging from the very beginning due to the terrain.

“It was about 270 kilometers out of which about 150 kilometers were through a river bed. You cannot write the rocks in this section into the roll book so this was more about risk and luck. The dunes came next. They, however, were not the biggest problem.”

The roll books that the competitors follow throughout the whole stage have no dunes written in them. The only thing in there is just marking of a crossing with an oriented angle and a degree, so called azimuth but realistically they have no idea how big the dune is or what is waiting for them on the other side.

“In Peru, the biggest problem was mainly that while riding across the sands I could hit a hole at any time. That is way worse than some dune. I can maybe slow down to 40 km/h but that is still really fast.”

Even one mistake in the roll book can ruin the yearlong preparation of the rider for the Dakar and his dreams of victory.

“The place of my unfortunate fall was not marked in my roll book. While filling up the tank, Beveren told me that he almost fell at the exact same spot. Walkner added that there were more dangerous spots during this stage that were not marked in the roll book.”

After this fall, Števo developed problems with his shoulder and he ended up in the field hospital in a bivouac where he spent approximately four hours and received an IV. At that point, he still thought that he would get back on his bike the next day.

“At 10 pm that night I was 100% sure I was going to continue the next day. But when the effects of the IV faded, I had a problem. The alarm was set to 5 am but I was up since 2 am, sitting on a bench outside in front the caravan, thinking about what to do next. It was then when I realized that because of my injured shoulder I would not be able to continue.”

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