After holding stages 3 to 6 of the Río NegroRegatta, the favorites, Néstor Pinta and Martín Mozzicafredo, face as the last stage in the leadership, to celebrate in the city of Viedma. This time there's a new course, replacing the usual arrival to Viedma by circuit between the bridges of the city, with eight portages along the 30 km.
|Photo by Carolyn J. Cooper|
The leadership of Kiko Vega and Santiago Scalesi after the first two stages was frustrated during the third, the longest of the competition with 68 km. At one point during the race, Vega took the wrong path through a longer route, something seized by Pinta and Mozzicafredo using their very good knowledge of the river to launch their attack and get away. After their mistake, Vega and Scalesi were relegated to third place, behind the U23 Balboa and Guerrero, and finished the stage with a minute and a half disadvantage, which also relegated them to third place overall.
And after the stage, before facing the well-deserved day off, there was the great controversy of this year, when a complaint was officially set against Vega-Scalesi by skipping a mandatory flag when they were trying to recover the time lost. After an entire day of investigation, they were penalized with five minutes, practically ruining all their options for overall victory.
The 4th stage (the shortest, only 22 km.), 5th and 6th were established following the same script from the first day, with the K2s main triplet in the lead and tight sprint finishes.
And here the young Balboa and Guerrero have begun to show their good shape and their top speed, winning in two of them, while the other one was for Pinta and Mozzicafredo. Scalesi and Vega have only the initial stage victory, but have always been in the fight for the other stages. However, their penalty relegated them to five and a half minutes in the classification, so just a monumental surprise would give them some option within the 30 kilometers of the final stage. Balboa and Guerrero, only 31 seconds behind Pinta and Mozzicafredo, look now like the only ones who can spoil the party of the kings of the competition, which are just two hours away from achieving their 12th victory as a couple, 13th in total for each.
In K1, Pascual Orellana has won every stage, while the other two podium drawers have been occupied by different paddlers, due to the intermittency of Gastón Gaona, who seemed the only one able to follow the leader in the first two stages. This has made so big the overall difference for Orellana that only his withdrawal would prevent him from claiming the final victory.
These are the current overall standings: