The 15 November 1992 He wakes up at noon.
Watch white ceiling, the view out the window, a television hung high on the wall in front of his bed and nothing familiar around. The last memory, the last time before that awakening is a Yamaha twin at full throttle in the Egyptian desert. He opens his eyes and tries to connect the two moments: that hospital room, Bianca and immobile and that bike free and fast in the middle of the sea of sand. It takes a while, ask those around, Arnaldo Faison and Giacomo Agostini and he understands that one day, that 6 October 1992 lasted a bit too: forty days, forty days of coma, forty days of deep sleep. His Yamaha broke the front wheel and he flew to 150 per hour with her face in the sand. When French physicians of the Organization find it, is dying.
Alessandro De Petri, say "Cyrus" for his big nose at Cirano, today is alive but is back in motion just to tell a story, write a book, do charities and open a school in Africa. See you in Las Vegas, giving me an appointment on the shores of Lake Iseo:
"If you want to chat, We're there to throw stones in the water as it was no-brainer. I love coming here, being alone and breathe in this pungent mountain air "long mouthfuls.
It is here that he started racing motorcycles. Around here you don't become football players, You must go in motion, preferably with the wheels clawed.
"As a kid I went into the Woods to watch Eastern samples with their Zundapp and CZ. Came here to train. And I wanted to get on those tracks ".
Yet, from "bad name", does not begin with regularity but with Cross, riding an old Abdelaziz given to him by his friend Dante Sachi. Has 15 years and behind a year's Gymkhana with Malaguti Cavalcone 50. A year later has an official Aspes, is the 1972. I prepare Happy Agostini, the brother of James. Ciro has a clean style but is a tough, never gives up, where there's muck, where is difficult, It puts the power of a bull, the head of a madman and goes on. Where others fear, He opens the throttle. Continues with the Cross until 1977 earning a second place in Italian 125 then, until 1980, runs in regularity: any major victory but is always the first in the European and the third step of the podium for four consecutive years to Six Days, first with the Puch 350 2 times, then a KTM 500.
In 1980, At home, do note that it's time to make adult choices, "getting a profession" as the fathers say. He enrolled in dentistry, the father is a dentist, and detect the activity seems more rational choice ... Too rational.
He doesn't want to be a dentist! Opened a workshop but discovered Africa and pawing, needs space, new air. with those molars in hand he feels like dying, It's not his life. His life is in the madness of Thierry Sabine. Is the 1983, has 28 years and his career began on the day when Headlights gives a Kappone.
Decide to go, but not alone. the friend is Frederick Felix. Did "the bowl", the shop assistant from Dante Sachi at the time of Abdelaziz but now he too has grown, He became a mechanic right, the two will split again until 6 October 1992. Ciro should be strong: is third in Morocco at the Atlas, sixth through the Pharaohs in Egypt and arrives at the bottom of the Dakar 1984 (37th). Sixteen years after his first ride, turns Pro. Honda Racing Division offers 15 million and a XL620L Thumper.
"I didn't think for one moment, I closed the workshop with all that there was no mortgage to pay and I left everything ... I'd do it a thousand times!”.
Smaller rallies or falls or breaks the bike like the Pharaohs of the 1985, When is ahead but must retire for the front wheel bearing failure. The Dakar 1985 retires with a broken arm, to that of the 1986 that's better, He won six stages and is fifth. Against the twins there's story, Honda NXR 750 only goes to the French, Ciro has to change:
"Fast stages there was to die with mono, but BMW offered me a motorcycle, I couldn't believe it, It was like going to Ferrari, It was the same bike by Rahier and Auriol. But Roberto Azzalin offered me a Cagiva and the same money (80 millions), I liked the idea, the project, people. With him I have always enjoyed, Besides that engine: every time you opened the gas looked like she vomits, came a roar from prehistoric animal, ".
Cyrus was big, often too. Peterhansel see it remained of stone. "You're crazy" telling him that evening at the bivouac.
"He was right. I played all my life so, When they were giving me off I didn't understand anything. There was a risk that every dune could be "broken", cut after the crest. Others waited to see what was behind before deciding what to do. the no, on 300 Dune those routes could be at most one or two, There was to risk your skin, but I gave a long March to take gas and put downward speed. With this game to life lost, Peterhansel took even 20 minutes on stage. I know that the Rally does not interpret that, though this was my way of riding a bike, whatever the risk and the price to be paid: fisting and the final victory!”.
In 1987 a first major victory, the Pharaohs, the year after winning in Tunisia, the Dakar falls and gets hurt. In 1989 Egypt and Tunisia wins again and is third to Dakar 1990 behind Orioli and Mas winning 6 stages. Home reports Cagiva are good, Azzalin sometimes insults, especially when Cyrus asks him 80 times the same things.
Azzalin still appreciates it, Ciro is training like a madman, in the gym, by bike. in motion. With Franco Gualdi, riding the bike for assistance, will train you to disassemble the motor Ducati from a motorcycle to another. Learn to do it in an hour and a half, Nothing in rallying at the time. But yields to Yamaha's Court, who offers him a YZE750 twin-cylinder. Won in Egypt, for the third time, and falls again to the Dakar that won't win any while entering the legend.
After Hearing Nani Roma: "I have the chills every time I see those pictures of Cyrus and Danny Laporte in Niger. You were on the edge of 200 per hour in a crazy fight. Absurd. Went off the track to seek ways impossible without ever shut off the gas, for hours. There is an indelible image in my memory: an overtaking of two by Medardo with Gilera. The two pass full throttle wide open and filled with catch seems that Medardo dust and stones. I think that is the most terrifying moment in the history of dueling Dakar ".
The 1991 is second in the Rally of Sardinia and Spain wins the Baja Aragon in conjunction with Cavandoli, the 1992 It is the year of the accident and the difficult recovery. But in the 1994 Decides to return to Dakar. that same year part and arrives in Paris.
Runs from a private Cagiva Elefant, does not point to victory, has different motivations. The helmet has placed a tape recorder. want to tell a story for a book. The title is Dakar Borderline, comes out in 2002 It is part of the project "Schools in the Desert" and its sale contributes to the building of the school of Assoda in Niger. Part for Paris directly from home, in motion, in the snow with a heated suit Dainese and ends 31st.
"Of all the Dakar will remember especially Peterhanser the strongest force for head and bolt handle; the goodness of Beppe Gauri, an individual always in deep shit but willing to help even if it was worse than you; the speed of Danny Laporte. Were beautiful years special consignments. That spirit must be recovered ".
Have you ever been afraid?
"If there was fear, the races do not exist. I'm afraid of apathy, the stand still, I fear for my three sons, It seems to me that the world is taking a turn for the worse and there are no signs of improvement. There are no certainties ".
Ciro it gets dark in the face, We remain silent and we throw another stone into the water. To break the silence looks at me and says:
"come on I'll take you in Indianapolis of Enduro".
I leave a stone that I have in hand and watch it with a question mark in my face painting.
"We go to monte Pora, in the heart of the valleys, where the enduro is the real thing ".
But it's almost dark, Maybe next. With Cyrus you are fine: Biker thug and wise man.
Interview by Guido Conter
source: motorcycle store.
A special thanks to my friend Alfredo Margaritelli who provided the material.