The Dakar’s athletes prepare for motoring marathon

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Fitness training for the Dakar’s stars

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With a total distance of 9,000km to cover, the world’s longest and hardest cross-country rally necessitates impeccable physical fitness. French driver Cyril Despres (Team Peugeot Total) started preparing for January’s Dakar in September.

“My personal trainer has concocted a programme which involves up to six workouts a week in the gym, plus cardio training in the form of running, cycling and cross-country skiing. On top of that, I do some based cognitive training exercises which are designed to improve coordination between your hands, feet and brain.

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“Meanwhile, the doctor who looks after the trail-running champion Kilian Jornet has given me a programme to be at my best during the five days the 2017 Dakar spends at high altitude in Bolivia. At home, I sleep in a plastic tent which simulates the conditions of being at altitudes of 2,500, 3,500 and 4,500 metres.

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“This work goes hand in hand with a specific diet. My wife is a dietician, so we always eat healthily, with plenty of vegetables and dairy products. During the Dakar, we will eat dried, vitamin-enriched food. “Another aspect of preparing for the Dakar involves knowing your car by heart, so that you can change a wheel or other parts in record time in sometimes hostile conditions.”