Cycle News

Cycle News 2013 Issue 23 June 11

Cycle News is a weekly magazine that covers all aspects of motorcycling including Supercross, Motocross and MotoGP as well as new motorcycles

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CN III IN THE PADDOCK P126 BY MICHAEL SCOTT THE SAVIOR S ince his return to Yamaha after two wilderness years at Ducati, Valentino Rossi has been through so many seminal career moments that he must be just about drowning in the stuff. In the space of just five races, the great star of yesteryear has scaled the heights and descaled the depths – the latter more than once. The latest of these was at home in Italy. Fast on day one, back to the third row in Saturday's qualifying, and in the gravel after only three corners in the race. The crash was Alvaro Bautista's fault, if you believe Rossi. Or Rossi's fault, if you believe the Spaniard. In the eyes of the authorities in their ivory control tower, it was a no-blame collision, what is euphemistically called "a racing incident." In the eyes of a portion of the crowd, it rendered the remaining 23 laps of the race of the year at Mugello insignificant, even invalid. They didn't leave the track in ones or twos. A colleague arriving late saw a whole busload on the exit road. Most of the fans stayed, and took part in the usual track invasion for the rostrum ceremony, where Jorge Lorenzo, Dani Pedrosa and Cal Crutchlow stood showering sweat and champagne. The sea of yellow hats and shirts beneath chanted the usual mantra: "Rossi. Rossi. Rossi," in the hope that he might appear, as he had last year in response to the same shouting, even though he had finished only fifth. They were to be disappointed. There is still time this year for Rossi to put everything to rights, but it is looking increasingly difficult. The fast young guys are just too... well, fast and young. The difficulty for 33-year-old Rossi has nothing to do with talent or dedication to racing, and everything to do with age. The new bikes, and more particularly the new control tires, require different riding techniques, he explained on race eve. "The way to ride the bike has changed a lot. Now you have to do some tricks on the bike that for an older rider like me are very difficult to learn." New tricks, old dog. It's kind of sad to watch, to those for whom the Rossi era has been almost unadulterated joy. Which has to be most of us, I imagine. Must be pretty hard for him too. But it has manifestly not taken away his enjoyment of racing. He is in no way ready to quit. Whether he is ready to carry on battling with the lesser lights while the likes of 20-year-old Marc Marquez take control of the big numbers is another matter. It leaves only one option. To follow the lead of his hated former rival Max Biaggi into World Superbikes. Where it is impossible to imagine he would not re-

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