MotoGP's winter break has claimed another victim. After Ducati's Nicky Hayden broke a shoulder blade and cracked some ribs at an indoor dirt track facility, Monster Tech 3 Yamaha's Andrea Dovizioso has announced that he has broken his right collarbone while riding his motocross bike. The Italian had been training on his MX bike at a track near his home in Forli, when he crashed, fracturing the collarbone. He was taken to a local hospital, where his shoulder was immobilized, and where Dovizioso announced his misfortune on his Twitter page, posting a photo of himself with the upper half of his body in bandages, but still wearing his motocross pants and boots.
Dovizioso now faces a race against time to be fit for the first official MotoGP test at Sepang, which starts on January 31st. Dovizioso did not reveal the severity of the broken collarbone, but under normal circumstances, motorcycle racers have broken collarbones plated and are ready to return to action within a couple of weeks. Until the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha team issues an official press release, we will not know the precise details of the injury.
With two riders injured from training crashes over the winter, many people are wondering why racers risk injury by riding motocross or dirt track during the off season. The reality is that riding a bike is still the best way of practicing all aspects of bike control. There is no better way of retaining the feel for a bike, leaving few real alternatives. As Tech 3's Moto2 rider Bradley Smith put it on Twitter, "Do you really think Racers would ride Motocross if we didn't feel it was of "Benefit" to us?"
The problem is not unique to motorcycle racing, however. Professional cyclists face a similar problem, often suffering injury while out training on the roads. As an example, 2011 Tour de France winner Cadel Evans was forced to miss a large part of the early season, after being injured in a training accident near his home in Switzerland in March of last year. Riding two-wheeled vehicles carries an inherent risk, and nothing can be done to eliminate that.