A truce between Biaggi and Rossi

Max Biaggi admits his appreciation for Valentino Rossi

MAX BIAGGI has confessed his appreciation for his former arch-nemesis Valentino Rossi, putting a close to their age-old rivalry.

Speaking on Italian radio Biaggi stated: "I respect and appreciate Rossi, and he has never hidden his mutual respect for me. I can't deny that he is a legendary rider. Now we are both more mature and racing in two different series; we aren't kids anymore and we respect each other's work."

In a rivalry that grew out of Rossi's taunts of Biaggi in the lower classes - including the famous blow-up Claudia Schiffer doll in reference to Max's relationship with Naomi Campbell - the clash of personalities magnified when Valentino stepped up to the 500GPs.

The opposing forces of Biaggi and Rossi split the sport in to divided camps of supporters and the rivalry perpetuated by the media defines the rise of MotoGP's popularity, the Roman Emperor continued:"For better or for worse, our rivalry brought a lot to the sport." 

"People were attracted to us, and the sport, who had previously been completely outside of the motorcycling world. It began as an Italian phenomenon, and then became a world phenomenon. But Valentino was my nemesis for many years." said Max on the often verbal and sometimes physical relationship with Rossi.

The extent of their differences often reached dangerous heights. At the opening round at Suzuka in 2001, Biaggi extended his elbow to seemingly force Rossi off the track coming on to the start straight. Valentino would miraculously maintain his position in the leading group, later passing Biaggi aggressively in the first corner and flicking the finger on the way to victory.

That same season would feature another physical episode, with the pair involved a clash at Catalunya in an altercation on the steps leading up to the podium. Biaggi would claim in the press conference that he was stung by 'a very little mosquito'.

Another rider that Rossi had an intense rivalry in the prime of the 990 era was Sete Gibernau. One particular incident surrounding the sweeping of a grid position at Qatar put an end to their friendliness. Rossi placed the ultimate mind-game hex upon Gibernau's career, exclaiming that he would never win another race. A tale that would become true, with the then Yamaha rider going as far as colliding with Sete to win at Jerez.

Despite this Gibernau does not hold this against Valentino, who in an interview with GP One says he owes a lot to: “He is great, maybe the greatest ever, and nobody can take away what he has already achieved. Despite everything that happened, I still have tremendous respect for him. I'm sorry we had some confrontations, but I don't hold a grudge. Quite the opposite, actually: if I was a top rider, it was thanks to him."

With no aim to return to racing, even with the temptation of 1000cc bikes Sete says that he does not miss racing. In 2009 the Spaniard attempted a comeback with a satellite Ducati effort but the return to racing never went as planned. Gibernau faced Rossi on both the Honda RC211V and battled him in his first season with Yamaha, commenting on Rossi's switch to Ducati he said: "If he decided to move to Ducati, it was because he needed more motivation. I hope for Italy that it goes well."