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Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge: Victory for Marc Coma.

The first round of the World Cross Country Championship now has a winner after a very tactical race which was also conditioned by a sandstorm which got stronger as the race progressed. Marc Coma was on the top of the podium in at the end of the rally Abu Dhabi. The final special stage of of this rally, 285 kilometres long, was always going to be a challenge for the Repsol rider but the race strategy he chose was the right one, the proof being his coronation as the winner in the Arab Emirates for the third time in his career.

On today`s stage the rules established that the first five on the leaderboard could choose their starting positions, and with the difficult conditions forecast Marc Coma decided to start fourth whilst his biggest rival, Cyril Despres, chose second. At dawn the riders discovered that the sandstorm had not lost any of its power, on the contrary the organisers were mulling over whether to suspend the stage, above all because there were moments when the helicopters could hardly fly. Fortunately the race was started and almost from the off a group of 5 riders formed at the front of the pack, they travelled at a safe pace together and crossed the finishing line at the same time.

With this strategy Marc added almost another four minutes over Despres in the overall classification, making sure of the victory which on the preceding days seemed to be a very tall order for him. The reigning champion of the Dakar continues to show that he is in excellent form, taking advantage of any mistake made by his rivals, adding another victory at the start of the 2009 World Cross Country Championship, demonstrating that he is as hungry as ever.
The next round of this championship for the Repsol rider is on 22nd April in the Rally Tunisia where he will be accompanied by his teammate Jordi Viladoms, with Marc undoubtedly fighting for another victory.

“I am very pleased, because we knew that in such a short rally like this it is very important not to make any mistakes, and that is just what we have done, keeping our concentration and taking advantage of the mistakes made by the other riders.

Today the sandstorm was tremendous, and on the first part still in the open desert, it was very difficult to ride. A group of five or six riders formed at the front and we rode in a group right to the end. On the second part of the stage we found the tracks that go to Abu Dhabi, but the strong wind and the large tongues of sand made it just as uncomfortable.”


Stage Classification
1. Pal ULLEVALSETER (KTM) 3:39.38
2. Marc ACKERMAN (KTM) 3:40.21
3. Marc COMA (TEAM REPSOL KTM) 3:41.37
4. Jakub PRZYGONSKI (KTM) 3:43.36
5. Cyril DESPRES (KTM) 3:45.29

Overall Classification
1. Marc COMA (TEAM REPSOL KTM) 20:18.00
2. Cyril DESPRES (KTM) + 5.42
3. Pal ULLEVALSETER (KTM) + 7.36
4. Sean GAUGAIN (HONDA) + 28.11
5. Marc ACKERMAN (KTM) + 31.53

2009/03/28 | 17:57 CET | Editor: MR/Repsol/Rita Konya

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