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Motorcycle competitor dies on opening day of Dakar Rally in Argentina

updated 1:36 PM EST, Mon January 2, 2012
Argentina motorcyclist Jorge Boero is pictured before the start of the Dakar Rally. He was killed on the first special stage.
Argentina motorcyclist Jorge Boero is pictured before the start of the Dakar Rally. He was killed on the first special stage.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Motorcyclist killed on first stage of Dakar Rally
  • Argentine competitor Jorge Martinez Boero dies after fall
  • Organizers say he suffered a cardiac arrest
  • Boero 21st competitor to die on the rally since 1979

(CNN) -- A motorcycle competitor has died the first stage of this year's Dakar Rally in Argentina Sunday.

Jorge Martinez Boero was only two kilometers from the finish of the 57km special from Mar del Plata to Santa Rosa when he came off his Beta bike with tragic results.

Organizers said the 38-year-old from Argentina, who was taking part in the annual event for the second time, suffered a cardiac arrest after his fall.

He was treated by medical staff within five minutes of the accident, but died on the way to hospital.

In a statement on the official website of the endurance rally, organizers sent their "heartfelt condolences to his family and loved one's."

Boero's death was the 21st involving a competitor during the event, which was started in 1979 as the Paris-Dakar rally.

It finished in the Senegal capital for 29 times until the organizers brought the event to South America in 2009.

This year's event covers 9,000 kilometers and takes in Argentina, Peru and Chile.

Cars, motorcycles and trucks compete in their various categories over a series of grueling special stages on difficult terrain.

Chilean Francisco Lopez won the opening stage of the motorbike section as the Aprilia rider covered the 57km course in 32 minutes 37seconds.

Russia's Leonid Novitzkiy took first in the cars section in a Mini, with NASCAR star Robby Gordon in fifth place in his Hummer.

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