Marc Coma had already singled out the 346km third stage, divided into 168km and 178km sections with a neutral zone of 9km, as being a key part of the race, and so it proved to be on Wednesday. The MRW rider started eleventh as a result of his position yesterday, but managed to put a 8 minute and 47 second advantage over Joan Barreda in the stage –8 minutes and 27 seconds in the overall standings. After an initial 59km run, the participants in the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge encountered the first 168km section. Marc Coma went on the attack, looking to catch the riders who set off before him. Little-by-little his pursuit saw success, and upon arrival following the 178km second section he had moved to the head of the overall standings. The MRW rider’s advantage was more than 8 minutes over the second placed rider –Barreda– and 20 over third placed Viladoms.

Two days away from the conclusion of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge, tomorrow the riders will face the largest section of the rally: 522km, split into a first run of 107km, a 318km special stage and a closing 97km section.

Marc Coma

“This was he longest stage, with hot conditions and a really tough challenge. I am happy with the result and with how the race looks from here on. We have two important days to go, but today was important too and we passed the test with flying colours. Starting from eleventh was a key factor and we were looking for this over the past few days.

When you start from a position that is further back, you have to try and cut the distance with the best time possible. That’s what we did. Tomorrow is another difficult day and I expect that we will lose a bit of our advantage, but I also hope that we have enough at the end of the day to continue to top the standings”.

Stage 3 details

Connection: 81 km

Special: 345 km

TOTAL: 426 km

Stage classification times

1. Marc Coma 04:49:51

2. Joan Barreda +00:08:47

3. David Casteu +00:11:33

4. Jakub Przygonsky +00:12:58

5. Sean Gauguin +00:15:06

General classification times

1. Marc Coma 12:47:17

2. Joan Barreda +00:08:27

3. Jordi Viladoms +00:19:09

4. Paulo Gonçalves +00:21:06

5. Rubén Faría +00:24:06