Canadian is two-thirds back

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Cyril Despres shows winning style

Montrealer Patrick Trahan is still hanging in at the
half-way point in the 2010 Dakar after Stage 6, running 65th out of
99 riders still left out of the 161 who started on January 1.

Team Honda Europe, with whom Trahan is riding, reports that
he "took off too fast from the start. A handstand on the handlebars was a
fair warning to ride slower".

Trahan himself said, "Others passed me, and I let them.
I fell once in the fes fes (heavy sand),
and had a trouble-free day … While going downhill on the last dune (4 km
long), the helicopter flew with me. I hope to see some nice footage when I get
home!"

The sixth stage was fast and dangerous through sandy and
barren territory, mostly a dust pit peppered with sharp rocks and the
occasional nasty hole as a surprise. A number of riders were injured in
crashes, the most serious being Italian rider Luca Manca, who was airlifted to
hospital with a life-threatening head injury.

The day culminated in a spectacular descent down an enormous
1,000 metre high dune towards the Pacific Ocean.

Pre-race favourite Marc Coma (KTM) took the stage victory,
moving up into fourth but more than an hour behind overall leader Cyril
Despres, also on a KTM. With a 42 minute lead over Chile’s Lopez Contardo
(Aprilia) and 44 minutes over Portugal’s Helder Rodrigues (Yamaha), Despres
continues to look good.

Stage 7 (Friday January 8) has the longest special section
of the rally, at 600 km, with another 41 km in transit sections. Huge sand dunes
are followed by eerie and very slow salt flats peppered with huge odd blocks
and pillars of salt. After that, it’s mostly fast and open country, rough and
sandy. The section is long enough that riders are being allowed two days to
complete it – Saturday is officially a rest day, but anyone making it before
sundown that day will be considered a finisher.

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