Monday, 7 January 2013

Kiko Vega and Santiago Scalesi lead the Rio Negro Regatta (ARG) after two stages

Vega and Scalesi after winning 1st stage. Photo: Claudio Espinoza
It began last Saturday the 36th Río Negro Regatta, in Argentina: 7 stages adding 277 km. Entries record, with 128 canoes, including the great champions of this race, the Argentinians Néstor Pinta and Martin Mozzicafredo, 11-time winners. However, this year, a new duo formed by Argentinian Santiago Scalesi and Spanish Federico "Kiko" Vega are trying to cut off the reign of the Patagonians, along with the promising young pair formed by U23 Franco Balboa and José Guerrero.

Saturday was the opening stage between Senillosa and Neuquén. Under hot sunny weather, the first kilometers of the stage were as usual at Río Negro, with a large number of K2s in the front bunch, as the race is long, with not much rest options from one day to the next one, so nobody wants to expend unnecesary fuel from the start.

However, at half stage it got clear that this year, unless major surprises, the podium will be decided among the three favorites, the thrill is just knowing what the order will be. Ahead were Pinta-Mozzicafredo, Vega-Scalesi and Balboa-Guerrero, leaving behind, in no man's land, the locals Vázquez & Reyes, who seem to e the only one able to seize any mistake from the leaders.

At the finish line of the first stage, Kiko Vega and Santiago Scalesi, who just worked out their K2 for three days before the race, got an important win against Pinta-Mozzicafredo, while Balboa and Guerrero gave up during the final sprint to finish in third place. But almost more important than the 7 seconds difference was the fact that this was the first stage not won by Pinta and Mozzicafredo since 2008. A moral push up to Scalesi and Vega, who want to set crystal clear that this year they have decided to come for victory.

The second stage, between Neuquén and General Roca, followed approximately the same script, but the controversy appeared in the last section of stage, with a U-turn finish to sprint upstream. Pinta blamed Balboa for an unfair play at the turn, making them unable to face the sprint in a good position. The victory went to the U23 Balboa-Guerrero, with Vega-Scalesi in second position and getting another important 7 seconds over Pinta and Mozzicafredo, and alloeing the Spanish-Argentinian couple to retain the leadership.

Regarding accusations of Pinta, Balboa declared that the current champion should not talk about a small detail in the final sprint when he spends the whole stage closing each other with Vega and Scalesi against trees and shallow banks, war where Balboa and Guerrero have decided not to go in, as only troubles can be gained in it. Given these statements, the next steps are expected burning hot, especially considering the small time difference between the top three K2s.

In K1, the absence this year of Dario Dal-Bo, current champion, Argentinian Pascual Orellana apparently claims favoritism after the first two stages. Comfortably placed in groups of K2s, he got both stages’ victories and leads by one minute and a half over Gastón Gaona, which is the only one who seems able to be on the lookout in case any mistake from the leader.

This is are the overall standings after stage 2:


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