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Dakar: Getting set

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Meanwhile, the motorbike field is also bursting with ambition, especially among the red-clad Honda bikers. The Japanese team finished just one step below the top of the podium in two of the last four editions, first with Paulo Gonçalves in 2015 and then with Kevin Benavides in 2018. The Portuguese rider seems unlikely to lead the charge, but he considers it “a victory to be here at the start” after undergoing surgery for an injured spleen about a month ago. In contrast, the Argentinian feels “100% ready to ride at the front”, while the third prong of the Honda trident, Joan Barreda, appears composed enough to neutralise the curse that always strikes right when he seems untouchable. At any rate, the team’s new special adviser, former rider Hélder Rodrigues (third in 2011 and 2012), is adamant that there will be a Honda rider on top of the podium in Lima on 17 January: “This is our year!”

More at https://www.dakar.com/en/news/2019/stage-1/auto/d-2-the-calm-before-the-storm/160277

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