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Race to Dakar team safe and sound after stage 5 - January 4th 2006

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    The Race to Dakar team has successfully completed the hardest day so far of the Euromilhões Lisboa Dakar 2006. Stage 5 of the gruelling event had a bit of everything: fast, stony tracks, rocks, potholes, heavy fog, and a serious amount of distance to cover.

    The mammoth 819 km (500 miles) stage started early this morning in Ouarzazate (near Marrakech) with a 187 km liaison, followed by a 350 km special, and finishing with a 282 km liaison to the rally bivouac at Tan Tan, close to the Atlantic coast.

    At the head of the field, it was Frenchman Cyril Despres and Spaniards Marc Coma and Isidre Esteve who were 'head and shoulders' above the opposition, as the rally participants rode in a south-westerly direction through Morocco. Taking off behind his two main rivals, Despres captured the day's win and moved to within one minute and 25 seconds of Coma in the overall rankings. Isidre Esteve moved down to third spot, some six minutes adrift.

    The Race to Dakar team of Matt Hall, Charley Boorman and Simon Pavey are in 112th, 114th and 125th place respectively at the end of today's event. Tomorrow's stage is another big one (792 km) from Tan Tan to Zouerat, with a long liaison (336 km) in the dark to the start of the 444 km special, which includes wide open fast sections as well as stretches of sand in the second half. A short liaison of just 12 km will complete day six.