MADONNA DI CAMPIGLIO, ITALY, JAN 11 - Ducati Marlboro's Valentino Rossi won't be physically fit for the start of the season after he revealed that the recovery of his surgically repaired right shoulder was taking longer than expected.This morning, Rossi faced the world's press for the first time since undergoing post-season surgery.  Most of the questions at the press conference at Wrooom 2011, the annual Formula One and MotoGP media ski party in the Italian Dolomites, centered on his shoulder, which he injured in a motocross accident on April 15 and which was finally operated on exactly seven months later.Initially his doctors told him there would be a 90-day recovery, but once they began the two-hour taks of repairing his ligaments and tendon,  they realized it would be a more protracted process. Now Rossi is hoping to be fit in April or May.He began the news conference by wishing everyone a new year, then said, "that at this time of January I was expecting to feel a bit better. In reality, I have to say, as far as the shoulder is concerned, there's still a lot to do. Everything is going well, I'm respecting the timing, I'm going also slightly faster than what was expected, but it's a race for me to get in shape before February the 1st [the first day of the first test of the year in Sepang, Malaysia]. "It's not going to be easy for me."Asked where the shoulder stood in terms of percentage, Rossi said, "Usually five, six months are necessary to be perfectly fit, 100 percent, and to have also the right strength. What I've seen, and this was explained to me also before, is that when you have a broken bone a lot can change in the times of recovery, and as a rider we're good, we're courageous and we're expert in accidents and we can usually be slightly faster in going back to a bike from the fracture."But unfortunately when you have to suture a tendon you cannot improve too quickly. You have to adjust yourself to the normal time for recovery. The tendon, five, six weeks, just to have the right scarring, and after that you can start working on the muscular structure. I hope to be in shape for March 20 and at 100 percent in, let's say, April or May. That's when I should be 100 percent."The press conference was also Rossi's first chance to speak about the Desmosedici, which he tested at Valencia following the end of the season. Because of his lack of fitness, he wasn't able to ride as long or as hard as he wanted, though he still gathered valuable feedback."Well, the test was extremely important because we were able to have a more precise view of many things, many important things and things which have to be improved," he said. "Unfortunately, in Valencia I could no longer ride, I did not have any more strength in my right arm, so it was not in shape. And so we were going to have to test the bike when we are going to a bit better, when we are going to be 100 percent physically."In order to understand how they went about the work, Rossi first explained the differences between the Ducati and the Japanese race machinery. He said the "Ducati is quite different from other bikes, quite different from Yamaha but also from the Hondas, because this is the bike, which from all points of view is like a prototype. And differently from the Japanese bikes which in reality are like some road bikes, so to say, that are transformed into MotoGP. This Desmosedici is, conceptually speaking, totally different. It must be used in a totally different way."At the time being ,we haven't done anything radical from the initial. Nothing radical, just the riding position and we asked to make some changes on some of the components on the bike so I can feel a bit more comfortable so I can ride a bit more like I like to ride the bike. But of course after this we are going to find a solution midway, meaning that we have to improve the Desmosedici to make a bike that is not only fast, as it fast now, but it should become also easier to ride. So where possible, let's say, we should able to make it more rideable. But on the other hand, on my part, I'm going to have to adjust to the bike and change also my riding style so as to exploit to the maximum of this bike."As for winning or losing, this challenge, I don't know. We are going to give our best and we're going to have to see in how much time I can get back to be perfectly fit physically, if I can be perfectly fit for the beginning of the championship. That's going to be very important."

 


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Henny Ray Abrams | Contributing Editor

Abrams is the longest-serving contributor at Cycle News. Over the course of his 35-some years of writing and shooting photos, he’s covered events from MotoGP to the Motocross World Championship - and everything in between.

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