More than eight months before the riders and crews line-up for the biggest raid of the year, the host cities of the 2017 Dakar were announced during two press conferences held in Asunción in Paraguay, then in La Paz in Bolivia. In all, they will have to complete 12 stages to make it to the finish line of the 39th edition that will end on 14 January in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
“Maybe thanks to the Dakar, the world will stop confusing Paraguay and Uruguay”, half-joked Ms Marcela Bacigalupo, Minister of Tourism in Paraguay, behind the scenes of the presentation in Asunción. Indeed, fellow government colleague Victor Pecci, a former pro tennis player who proudly represented his country by reaching the Finals of the French Open and is now the Minister of Sport, was especially thrilled that “the Dakar will without a doubt be the biggest international event the country has ever hosted”. On the competition side, the most experienced Paraguayan participant, Nelson Sanabria, who finished 4th in the quad category in 2015, is already looking forward to the moment of pride he expects early next year: "this is a dream that will finally come true, and it will be really great to be able to start surrounded by our loved ones."
The crossing of Paraguay will unquestionably be an emotional ride for Sanabria and his countrymen in the race, but the competition will heat up when the race enters Bolivia. In the presence of President Evo Morales, Etienne Lavigne stated that “coping with the altitude is now among the parameters to control for both the Dakar competitors and mechanics, who have experienced all the consequences during their expeditions to Uyuni in previous years”. But this time, the Bolivian leg will lead the Dakar to La Paz for a rest day where the competitors will catch their breath in an unusual way… at 3,600m! The altitude doesn't scare Bolivia's top bike rider Chavo Salvatierra, or his countryman and quad competitor Walter Nosiglia, who are already delighted about this long stay in their home country. Evo Morales, whose enthusiasm for the Dakar has increased with each edition since its first visit in 2013, will for his part align himself with the pledge made by Thierry Sabine: "It will be a challenge for those who go, a dream for those who stay."
2017 Dakar: The Stages
02/01: Asunción (Par)-Resistencia (Arg)
03/01: Resistencia-San Miguel de Tucuman (Arg)
04/01: San Miguel de Tucumán-San Salvador de Jujuy (Arg)
05/01: San Salvador de Jujuy-Tupiza (Bol)
06/01: Tupiza-Oruro (Bol)
07/01: Oruro-La Paz (Bol)
08/01: Rest day at La Paz
09/01: La Paz-Uyuni (Bol)
10/01: Uyuni-Salta (Arg)
11/01: Salta-Chilecito (Arg)
12/01: Chilecito-San Juan (Arg)
13/01: San Juan-Río Cuarto (Arg)
14/01: Río Cuarto-Buenos Aires (Arg)
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