Cyril Despres took a commanding victory in the third stage of the 2010 Dakar on day four of the epic 9000 km ride through Argentina and Chile - and also claimed the overall lead.

Hitting serious sand for the first time and tackling some difficult technical sections, KTM star Despres, the 2009 World Rally Champion, came in 10 minutes 40 seconds ahead of Helder Rodrigues (Yamaha) in the stage and now has an overall lead of just over 10 minutes over David Casteu (Sherco) in the overall standings.

Indeed Monday, which took the riders 441 km from La Roija to Flambala, shook up the standing order as the bikes also started their climb up into the Andes.

For French born Despres, a veteran and multiple winner of the African Dakar, Monday's tough ride was a taste of the terrain he is accustomed to.

"This is one of those stages when you set out in the morning and you think to yourself, 'ok, 180 km - that will be easy. We'll soon be at the bivouac'. But there you are, we've just spent three hours battling on the bikes," he said. "It was a really African-like stage: physically tough with the heat, soft dunes and mechanical aspects to deal with. ... it was a very complicated day."

2009 Dakar winner Marc Coma, who was knocked down to 14th overall on day three after incurring a 22 minute speeding penalty in the first timed stage, clawed back a few positions and is now eighth overall - but still trails arch-rival Despres by a significant 42 minute deficit.

Coma also experienced some technical problems on a day where conditions tested riders and machines. Coma finished ninth in the stage.

There was also bad luck for another KTM rider, Spain's Jordi Viladoms, who took a tumble at the 70 km mark and was transported to the bivouac at Fiambala.

Medical reports indicate no severe injuries for Viladoms but he will remain under observation as a precaution and must therefore draw a line under his Dakar efforts for 2010.
2010 Dakar - Stage Three Results
1. Cyril Despres, Andorra, KTM
2. Helder Rodrigues, Portugal, Yamaha (at 10'40)
3. Paolo Goncalves, Portugal, BMW
4. David Casteu, France, Sherco
5. Francisco Lopez, Chile, Aprilia
9. Marc Coma, Spain, KTM
2010 Dakar - Overall after Stage Three
1. Cyril Despres, Andorra, KTM
2. David Casteu, France, Sherco (at 10'03)
3. .Helder Rodrigues, Portugal, Yamaha
4. Luca Manca, Italy, KTM
5. Alain Duclos, France, KTM
8. Marc Coma, Spain, KTM

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