The Four Musketeers

January 10 th 2019 - 06:34 [GMT -5]

Being confined to a wheelchair since a crash in the Italian Baja in March 2010 has done nothing to dampen Nicola Dutto's love for motorbikes and off-road racing. Others might have drawn a line under it, but the Italian's burning ambition and passion pushed him to beat the odds by becoming the first paraplegic rider to compete in the Dakar. Nicola has been working on his crazy wager with Spanish bikers Víctor Rivera, Pablo Toral and Julián Villarrubia for several months. "All for one, and one for all", as the latter sums it up. "We're The Four Musketeers of the Dakar. Four bikes for one rider." Riding a KTM that has been specially modified to be piloted just with the arms, Nicola finished stage 3 in 123rd place, over five hours behind winner Xavier de Soultrait. For the Italian, every stage he finishes is a victory in itself. "The first 50 kilometres went well, but the series of little dunes that came afterwards made the stage a difficult one", he explains. "I fell a lot, about 20 times, and I lost loads of petrol before refuelling. It cost us an hour and a half." However, these difficulties are no match for the determination of this extraordinary man. The three lieutenants gave their captain a warm welcome at the end of the special —the camaraderie of a tight-knit team. "He blows our mind every day", says Julián. "My dream came true when I did the Dakar ten years ago. Now, getting to help Nicola to follow his dream is quite simply amazing. I'm extremely happy to be at his side." The team is a well-oiled machine. Víctor scouts ahead to navigate and look out for potential pitfalls so that Nicola can avoid them. Pablo and Julián stay close, ready to rush to their friend's aid whenever he falls or runs into trouble. "It's a gruelling adventure, but even more importantly, a fabulous experience", concludes Nicola. And a lesson in life for all fans of the rally.

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