Stephane Peterhansel sneaks Stage 11 win as Carlos Sainz takes lead into Dakar finale

Bahrain JCW X-Raid Team's Stephane Peterhansel and Paulo Fiuza during the Dakar Rally's Stage 11 in Saudi Arabia. (Reuters)
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Updated 16 January 2020

Stephane Peterhansel sneaks Stage 11 win as Carlos Sainz takes lead into Dakar finale

  • Frenchman Peterhansel won his fourth stage of this year’s race
  • Friday’s final 374-kilometer stage is between Haradh and Qiddiyah

HARADH, Saudi Arabia: Stephane Peterhansel snatched a dramatic 11th stage of the Dakar Rally on Thursday when he pipped Nasser Al-Attiyah to the line by just 10 seconds, as Carlos Sainz maintained the overall lead heading into the final day.
Frenchman Peterhansel won his fourth stage of this year’s race in his Mini ahead of Toyota’s Al-Attiyah in Haradh, and finished more than eight minutes ahead of teammate Sainz.
“We fought hard, we pushed all day long and we gained some time, but not enough. Now, if Carlos can bring it home, it’ll be great for the team,” said Peterhansel.
Spanish veteran Sainz, 57, is 10 minutes and 23 seconds ahead of Peterhansel, who is third in the overall standings going into Friday’s final 374-kilometer stage between Haradh and Qiddiyah, and the Spaniard is still on course for his third Dakar victory.
“Just one day to go. I’ll keep an eye on the gaps and stay focused for tomorrow,” said Sainz.
“We have a little work to do on the car but everything is working well.”

However “Mr. Dakar” Peterhansel, who has won the rally 13 times (seven in a car, six on a bike), is just six seconds behind Qatari defending champion Al-Attiyah, who sits second.
Two-time Formula One world champion Fernando Alonso finished eighth on the day to sit 13th overall, four hours and 43 minutes behind Sainz.
Two-time world rally champion Sainz, whose son Carlos Sainz Jr drives for McLaren in Formula One, previously won the Dakar in 2010 and 2018.
On the bikes, Pablo Quintanilla won the 11th stage by just nine seconds ahead of Red Bull’s Matthias Walkner, significantly closing the gap between him and overall leader Ricky Brabec, who finished the stage 11 minutes 48 seconds back in 10th.
“It could be a really great day for us so we have to keep our fingers crossed and keep a positive mindset,” said Brabec.
Chilean Quintanilla is however still nearly 14 minutes behind Brabec going into the final stage.
“I’m really happy with this stage. It is always a nice feeling to win a stage. It was really difficult and I gave it my 100 percent from the beginning,” said Quintanilla.
“I took back a lot of time from Ricky, but there is still a bit of difference between us. We still have a few kilometers to push tomorrow.”

 


Lin Dan retirement ends era of ‘Chinese sports superstar’

Updated 08 July 2020

Lin Dan retirement ends era of ‘Chinese sports superstar’

  • The era of the superstar that once belonged to Chinese sports has faded

SHANGHAI: The retirement of two-time Olympic champion Lin Dan signals the end of a golden era of Chinese sporting superstars, state media said on Tuesday.

Arguably the greatest badminton player of all time, the 36-year-old said on Saturday that he was bringing the curtain down on a career that also brought five world titles.

NBA All-Star Yao Ming, Olympic gold-medal hurdler Liu Xiang and two-time tennis Grand Slam champion Li Na have all retired in the last decade.

“With the ‘Super Dan’ curtain call, people cannot help but sigh,” Xinhua news agency said.

“The era of the superstar that once belonged to Chinese sports has faded.

“When will the next Lin Dan appear? Or when will the next Yao Ming, Liu Xiang and Li Na appear?

“Where is the next Chinese sports superstar who will create a collective memory for us?”

The quartet were not just world leaders in their sport and popular in China, but also had “considerable influence in the international arena and became a window for the world to understand China,” Xinhua said.

Of prominent Chinese athletes left, women’s volleyball player Zhu Ting has the potential to rise to superstar level, Xinhua said, while disgraced swimmer Sun Yang “enjoys high popularity (in China), but unfortunately he is banned.” 

The 28-year-old is appealing against an 8-year ban for refusing to give a doping sample. The three-time Olympic freestyle champion’s career will effectively be over if he loses his appeal at the Swiss Federal Tribunal.

China has world champions in other sports, and finished third behind the US and Britain in the medal table at the Rio 2016 Olympics, but they are not generally well-known even inside the country, Xinhua said.

Table tennis player Zhang Jike, another three-time Olympic gold medalist, deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as Lin, said the Oriental Sports Daily.

But at 32 his best days are behind him and as far back as 2016 he signaled his intention to retire, before having a change of heart.

“When will the next Lin Dan and China’s next sports superstar appear again?” asked the newspaper.

“This question may not be answered in a short space of time.”