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That’s where it went wrong. Verhoeven blames himself for not following his intuition. ‘We missed the next arm of the rio. We were too far to the left, took the next turn. We moved in the wrong arm too far and couldn’t get back out. The rio we were in was covered with stones and rocks instead of sand. I knew we were wrong because there were electricity wires and they were not in the roadbook.’

Though Verhoeven knew they were in the wrong rio, he decided not to turn around but stay with the group that grew along the way. ‘Olivier Pain is a good navigator. But this time he refused to admit he was wrong. But what if I would make a mistake on my own and lose time to Pain? He was the leader in the standings after all. So I decided to stay with him. In the rain we had on the way my GPS broke down, so I couldn’t even follow the right route on my own.’

Looking back it would have been better to stay with David Casteu, who found the right exit and took over the lead in the standings. ‘It was a mess’, according to Verhoeven. ‘Everybody followed our tracks and thus the first 20 to 30 riders were messing around in the same rio. We all lost time. I had set my mind on this stage to win, but in the end I’m happy I didn’t lose time. The gaps in the top 15 are even smaller now. I might have some changes to climb up in the rankings.’

Except for the time lost in the rio the eighth stage was a fast one. Verhoevens Yamaha YZ450R reached a top speed of 174 kilometer. ‘There is nothing wrong with the bike.



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