As winner of the 2012 edition, Cyril Despres enters this year’s race as the favourite. Following the race reports and learning more about his journey towards Dakar 2013, I was pretty amazed at the amount of preparation and hard work that he puts in to win.
Putting together what I learnt, here is what it takes to win 4 Dakar titles.
Peak at the right time
Like endurance sports, taking part in progressive races in order to peak at the right time for the big race is necessary. Cyril takes a similar approach, using a number of rallies to tune himself up to race-readiness. These are the two rallies he raced in (and won) leading to the Dakar 2013.
The Desafio Litoral Rally is a 1,600km, 6 stage (23 July – 28 July 2012) race under the Dakar race Series umbrella. It starts in Argentina and passes the provinces of Misiones, Corrientes and Chaco. As the first Dakar race held in South America, the 2012 route is designed to pass and showcase the country’s magnificant and lush forested landscape.
After the race, Cyril revealed that he entered the race pretty confident ‘I never thought that victory could escape me, not even when I tore my rear tire. ‘ he said.Rallye du Maroc
The Rallye du Maroc or ‘Rally of Morocco’ is another 6 day rally with the 2012 edition starting and ending on the 14th and 20th Oct. Open to both professionals and amateurs, the participants cover a total of 2074 km starting from Erfoud and ending in Zagora (both regions are in Morocco).
Cyril Despres won in a time of 17h, 58min, the next KTM rider was Chaleco Lopez with a time of 18h, 33min.
Cyril and KTM test their bikes relentlessly. With tests performed at private test tracks in Andorra and the French region of Narbonne, they ensure that every last detail is take care of. Of course having the same mechanic service his bike for the past 10 years also contributes to a reliable race-winning bike.
Testing in Narbonne, France
Private testing in Grandvalira – Andorra
Be super fit
Crashes while off-roading are very common and are caused more by human fatigue than mechanical failures. Being aware that the rider is the weak link, Cyril is fanatic about keeping himself fit.
He is known to shut himself at fitness centres for weeks at a time and leading up to Dakar 2013, he admitted to having covered more kilometers on his bicycle than on his motorbike.
Here is a look at a typical training routine. You’ll notice a focus on core and leg work, crucial in letting him keep his torso stable over dunes allowing him to spend long periods standing on the bike.
So there you have it, how Cyril Despres wins 4 Dakar titles. It’s not easy staying at the top.
What do you do to prepare for off-roading? Comments and feedback below!