You feel “butterflies in your stomach.” And it does not rule out anything. Marc Márquez, who returns to racing this weekend after nine months off, says that he has no goal for the Portuguese Grand Prix. But also that it does not close to anything. It is the appointment of his return after a fracture in the right humerus for which he has needed three operations. And what worries him the most is discovering how long it will take for Márquez to feel himself. In driving the way he wants. “Mentally, I still have to feel like a MotoGP rider,” he warns. Although physically he looks prepared.
Four months have passed since the third and last operation on the humerus of the right arm. And you only feel uncertainty. He is not afraid. He has seldom felt it. And it is evident that he did not feel it after suffering a fracture in the middle third of the humerus as a result of a tremendous fall when he was starring in a comeback with a signature signature in Jerez, in the first race last year. He also had little qualms when just one day after coming out of the operating room, he showed that he was capable of doing 20 push-ups without losing his hair.
Although an arm bone takes a minimum of a month to form a bit of a cayo capable of withstanding the pressure of the upper limb, four days later he was back on the Honda, at the same circuit in Jerez, where he celebrated a second race.
That excess of activity after the injury and the surgery ended up leaving him KO for the whole season.
“The return was hasty. I am brave, but I am not unconscious ”, declares Márquez in a short documentary broadcast by DAZN and which they have titled Fearless (Without fear).
When on the second day of competition he felt that his arm was not ready, he withdrew from the grand prize. Thirteen days after the first operation, Márquez went through the operating room again. The plate that held the humerus in his right arm had been broken when he tried to open a sliding door in his house and the bone was again split in two. “It was a material fatigue fracture,” explains Dr. Ángel Villamor, a traumatologist. “The bones are elastic. When I walk my femur, like a saber, it always bends a little ”, he explains.
In time with the movement of Márquez’s humerus, the thin and elongated metal plate that held it was also bending. In those push-ups, in those first laps with the Honda, on the rowing machine at the home gym … “If you start to bend a metal bar and repeat that movement over and over again, it ends up breaking. Micro-tears are made until it breaks completely ”, adds the traumatologist.
Today the doctors who operated on him a third time at the Ruber International Hospital —the bone had failed to consolidate, a pseudoarthosis had occurred and an infection was noticed in the humerus itself— certify that the key is fully formed and the bone has welded.
Márquez returns when getting on his Honda, a 1,000 cc motorcycle with more than 250 horsepower and 157 kilos of weight, at least and according to the regulations, no longer represents an added risk. In Portimao, where last year 345 km / h were reached, the Spaniard will assume, experts understand, the same risks as his rivals.
Of course, it will not be just any return to the office. Márquez, who has never competed in Portugal with a MotoGP, showed up at the Algarve circuit a month ago to test himself on a street Honda (as he also did before in Montmeló) and to recognize the track. And you already know that you will have them with Turn 1: it reaches a speed of 332 km / h and a G-force of 5.7 kilos is supported for at least five seconds and 300 meters of braking. It is also a curve to the right. Those will be the stops that cost you the most. Not so much because of the fracture itself, but because of the loss of muscle mass suffered in the right arm and the lack of strength and power. “My brother has already warned me that it is one of the most physical circuits on the calendar. I come to the ideal place ”, he jokes. In spite of everything, he is the same Márquez.
“A rider holds all the inertia of his body on the handlebars and with his arms. They are the ones who report the most fatigue at the end of a session ”, indicates Villamor. Márquez also rides putting the weight on the front end, a technique that adds extra effort to the arms and requires much more control.
The experts understand that if you have received the ok to compete again, it is because joint mobility is optimal and the arm is able to withstand braking, acceleration, inclination and changes of direction. “It happens that, as we have seen so many times with clavicle injuries, the body tries to protect the area that is most tender and works with accessory muscles. Marc will unconsciously put a lot more weight on his left arm. And that will affect you muscularly. It is overexertion that can create contractures in the healthy arm ”, indicates Salvador Miró, doctor in sports psychology.
Miró calls for calm: “At some point he will have a lot of muscular fatigue due to the lack of resistance after nine months standing. If you do not regulate your efforts well the first days, you will notice it after the second day ”. A message that the athlete’s environment has surely insisted on, who considered returning for the first date of the year, on March 28 in Qatar.