Through gritted teeth

Dakar 2023 | Stage 12 | YANBU > YANBU
January 13 th 2023 - 08:43 [GMT + 3]

 Mathieu Troquier is unlikely to forget his first Dakar. Since the eighth day of racing, the Frenchman has been riding his KTM with a broken foot, obliging him to move around using crutches once he gets off his bike…  

 At the Dakar bivouacs, Mathieu Troquier is not easy to miss. Three days from the finish, among the lame competitors hanging in there to reach Dammam, he is the only biker to be wandering around on a pair of crutches. “I can’t put my foot down,” he points out. Fortunately, Mathieu can count on good friends, such as his mate Rodolphe who brings him his tray from the rally canteen. It all went pear-shaped the day before the rest day in Riyadh. At the top of a dune on which the crest broke, Mathieu plunged down on his KTM. “I fell flat three or four metres lower down. There was a big blow on my right foot and I just knew things would become complicated”. On his return to the bivouac, the doctors diagnosed a bone tear with a fracture of the anterior tibia, as well as damage to the joint. The following day, a further check-up at the hospital in Riyadh confirmed the bad news. “They wanted to put a plaster cast on, but I told them it wouldn’t be possible,” says the man from Alsace. “I returned to the bivouac and the medical team did the necessary by immobilising my foot at 90 degrees so I could carry on riding”. This is how Mathieu tackled the second week of the rally. “I’m riding with my heel on the foot stand and I’m avoiding braking. I’m riding a bit like a quad rider, with by bottom pushed back to press down on the bike. When there’s an impact, I lift my foot off. I tackle the dunes via the left so that I can set off again if I have to stop. If it had been my left foot, it would have been more complicated, because It would have been much more difficult to change gear. That said, I’m gritting my teeth and trying to get on with it because there are times when it is really painful”. Naturally, the Nomade Racing rider hopes that his stubbornness will not complicate how his foot heals on his return home. “Normally, I should start work again as a training instructor with Bosh eBike, but I’ll have to check into the hospital first and hope I don’t need an operation”. For Mathieu, withdrawing from the Dakar was never an option, because he has dreamed of this rally since he was a boy. “Like a lot of others, I watched the race on TV. One day, I said to a friend at school that I would race it. And here I am. I didn’t want to have to return home without having experienced the Empty Quarter. That was my goal and I’m really happy to have achieved it”. Obviously, Mathieu discovered the desert very far from his native Alsace. “Where I live, there is no sand, you have to go to visit the Ch’tis in northern France to find any. As for the tracks, they’re always busy with tractors”. Like many others, Mathieu developed his passion for rallying in North Africa. Three participations on the Raid de l’Amitié and two on the Rallye du Maroc enabled him to discover the pleasures of the dunes and navigation. Before that, he spent ten years in motocross and just as many seasons in the downhill cycling world cup. “After that, I switched to enduro, which in turn brought rallies and then rally-raids” What next? “Let’s see in two months’ time,” he says with a big smile. “I’ll already have to persuade my wife to look after me when I get home!”

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