Madness has a name: Valentino Rossi (43). MotoGP legend, nine-time world champion, millions of fans worldwide. The city of Pesaro had the biggest motorbike helmet in the world built in his honour. VR46 comes to the inauguration on the two-wheeled...
The Valentino Rossi phenomenon. Hundreds of people stand for hours in the blazing sun on Piazzale Gabriele D'Annunzio just to catch a glimpse of their idol. He retired from MotoGP at the end of 2021. That didn't hurt the love of the fans.
The conditions are brutal: 38 degrees, humidity 70 percent. The moderator does his best to keep the crowd awake. His shirt is wet front and back. The mood is good, but everyone is just waiting for the One.
Valentino Rossi is one of them. He grew up in the province of Pesaro and Urbino. To this day, the village of Tavullia is his home. Tens of thousands of fans make the pilgrimage here every year. In Pesaro and Urbino, the boys don't want to become footballers, but two-wheeled heroes.
>>> More about Rossi's last race in Italy and his home village of Tavullia here
Even before the inauguration on Monday evening (25 July 2022), the memorial to Rossi is making headlines around the world. Media worldwide are reporting on the planned installation. The dimensions of the XXL helmet: 4×6 metres. Title: "Un Casco da Leggenda".
All the big Italian TV channels are there, RAI Uno, Sky, more than 30 journalists. A Valentino Rossi attracts everyone.
"Vale, Vale, Vale" - the shouts in the crowd grow louder and louder. Mayor Matteo Ricci gives his laudation, the "Doctor" (Valentino Rossi's nickname) looks at his helmet, golden confetti cannons spray into the sultry evening sky.
Then comes the bath in the crowd. Of all the professional athletes, Valentino Rossi is number one. No fear of contact, no bodyguards. A tall, broad man from the security staff spontaneously steps in to clear the way.
The heat, the wet sweaty T-shirts don't matter. Every fan wants at least one autograph, preferably a photo as well. Adult men over 50 hold out their motorbike helmets to be signed. A little boy is so emotionally overwhelmed that he starts to cry.
Shouting, shoving, suddenly a huge guy comes from behind and tries to push everyone aside. A little commotion, but a Valentino Rossi stays cool, no matter how exhausting it must be. A big smile, sweat running down his forehead too. Selfies again and again.
After 43 minutes, the state of emergency is on. Valentino Rossi gets on his two-wheeler (a Yamaha TMAX) with his wife Francesca Sofia Novela (28) and rides home.
A MotoGP legend doesn't need a chauffeur...
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