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‘I decided it was time for an attack’, Verhoeven mentioned. ‘This stage was part one of the marathon stage. This is an advantage for me: I know how to ride economically and I can repair myself.’ 

During a marathon stage the bikeriders have to look after themselves and each other, without any assistance. They stay overnight in their own bivouac, away from the main bivouac. The marathon stage means everybody has to ride carefully to save the bike and the tires: no spare parts around. 

After a 417 kilometer long liaison from Calama to the Argentinian border via the Paso de Jama  Verhoeven opened his assault on Chilean rider Israel Esquerre. ‘I got him within 30 kilometers. The next one was Cyril Despres. It was clear he had a problem. I hear he has no fifth gear.’

After he overtook Despres Verhoeven kept on going. ‘It was a fast special with little streams, rocks, vegetation. Very nice! Especially after the boring and long liaison. After the special there was another liaison of 167 kilometers, completely off road. It was very technical and almost looked more like a special than a liaison. We came above the altitude of 5000 meters. It didn’t bother me, though I have a little headache now.’

The riders stay in an old deserted village. Not very nice, according to Verhoeven. ‘Last year we stayed in a stadium, on the pit. Now we are on concrete floors. There is nothing to do, nothing to see. It’s very primitive. I better look forward to tomorrow’s stage.’



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