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Rodolfo Hernandez returns to fortify Barros

Rodolfo Hernandez returns to fortify Barros

Rodolfo Hernandez returns to fortify Barros

There was a familiar face in Alex Barros's Repsol Honda box at Catalunya last weekend, with the return of the Brazilian's physical and nutritional trainer Dr Rodolfo Hernandez. The former Tae Kwando World Champion, who has a degree in Exercise Physiology and a PhD in Nutrition, worked closely with Barros during the 2001 and 2002 seasons, when he hit the best form of his career, taking three wins and scoring ten podiums – virtually double his previous tally after 15 seasons in Grand Prix.

At the time Barros put his new found strength down to Hernandez's strict regime, which cut his body fat levels down from 13% to just 6.5%, and cited a psychological edge picked up from positive thinking techniques known as Neuro Linguistic Programming. "The physical side has obviously made big changes, but it is the mental strength (Rodolfo) gives me that really makes me feel strong," he said.

"When I feel strong inside, I feel I can do anything. I feel confident about my ability and by studying each circuit and adapting my training specifically to the race I feel a lot safer, better prepared and can race to 100% of my potential".

A year's sabbatical from his revered personal trainer and close friend coincided with a dramatic loss of form and fitness for Barros in 2003, as he struggled to adapt to the Yamaha M1 and finished the season back in ninth position with just one podium and a badly injured shoulder to show for his efforts. However, on his return to Honda in 2004, Hernandez has been a key figure in the 33 year old's preparations for his most important season yet.

"I have been working a lot with Alex over the winter to try and recover the strength in his shoulder – above all in the tissues and ligaments, which need to be prepared in the right way before he puts muscle back on," explained Hernandez. "Otherwise it will only take a slight crash to injure them again, but the work we have done will make sure that doesn't happen. Alex's physiotherapists in Brazil have been very impressed with his recovery.

"I would say that right now Alex is around 80% fit, but we will be working hard to make sure he is 100% at the first race and I feel very confident that he will win the title this year."

MotoGP, 2004, Alex Barros

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