Today’s stage was cut short due to poor conditions. Race organisers called a halt to the special stage with 101 kilometres completed, a quarter of the scheduled total.
As had previously been predicted, today’s stage was held amid dismal track conditions, given that the cars, SSVs and trucks had competed over the same route a day earlier. Riders set out well-aware that they would have their work cut out on this tough, physical stage. However, the race organisers quickly realised just how treacherous the route was for most riders: “The deterioration of the track due to the passage of cars and trucks yesterday, combined with recent torrential rains, has made the route impassable,” announced the ASO mid-stage. Furthermore, the organisers’ communiqué stated that “the classification for the sixth stage will be established at kilometre 101”. Therefore, the final stage length was approximately a quarter of the originally scheduled total.
José Ignacio Cornejo and Ricky Brabec found themselves opening the way after the two riders ahead crashed in a dangerous, deeply rutted position after yesterday’s traffic of four-wheelers and trucks. On reaching the refuelling point, the riders were instructed to continue, however, the race direction helicopter subsequently informed them that the special had been shortened to the refuelling point, and from there, competitors were directed back to the bivouac in Riyadh. Pablo Quintanilla, who had been in pursuit, also managed to reach the end of the special at kilometre 101 and later accompanied the other riders to the bivouac.
The shortened stage proved to be a blessing for Joan Barreda, who this morning started still visibly in pain after yesterday’s fall where he injured his shoulder. The Monster Energy Honda Team rider was able to complete today’s partial stage and will be grateful to have reached the rest day. Stage seven gets the rally underway again the following day.
There will be no stage tomorrow. After six days of tough racing, the competitors have earned a well-deserved rest day. After arriving at the bivouac today, the riders will have the entire day to relax and prepare both physically and mentally for the second week of competition, set to recommence the day after tomorrow, on Sunday, with the seventh stage: Riyadh-Al Dawadimi.
- From Monster Energy Honda Team