Toby Price will return to Europe to prepare for the 2021 Dakar next week, despite lingering uncertainty over whether the event will go ahead.
The two-time Dakar winner has been at home in Queensland since returning from the 2020 event, with most of his international 2020 programme falling to the wayside thanks to the coronavirus pandemic.
However the unexpected break is now coming to an end, Price set to jet off to Europe early next week to ramp up preparations for the 2021 Dakar with the factory KTM squad.
That’s despite a lack of certainty that the event will kick off in Saudi Arabia on January 3 as planned.
“We just got the call up now,” said Price. “We’re going to head back to Europe. We’re five months out from the race, basically, and we’re going to try and test, ride, train and prepare the best we can.
“I’m going to miss mum and dad, family, friends, things like that. It’s something I haven’t been used to for the last six or seven years, and then the last six months I’ve been constantly around my family and friends.
“That adjustment is going a little bit hard. [But] it’ll get back to normal pretty soon. We’re excited for it. Fingers crossed Dakar goes ahead in January.”
Price only recently returned to full-blown training, admitting the uncertainty of the pandemic has made a rhythm had to come by.
“To try and stay fit and motivated has been quite difficult,” he said. “You start training and getting organised for an event, and all of a sudden it gets cancelled, so then you try and wind off again and try to not burn yourself out before anything kicks off.
“The first few months I knew nothing was going to happen, I had some time off, relaxed and pretty much did nothing. [Recently] we’ve been on the motorcycle, doing a lot of mountain bike riding and back in the gym and getting go again.”
If the 2021 Dakar does go ahead Price is predicting a hot pace, with riders benefitting from the break and the opportunity to let injuries fully heal.
Price is well versed in tackling the event short of peak fitness after taking an unlikely triumph in 2019 while nursing a serious wrist injury.
“To have this seven month break, it’s been a bit of a blessing,” he said.
“It’s let everyone recharge and let the bodies heal back up. A lot of people are going to come in quite strong to the races. This year is going to be another level again. It’s exciting times ahead.”
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