At the start of the 2009 season I was the fittest I'd ever been. We had some teething problems with the new Ducati but we managed to get it moving okay. We knew that this bike had real potential and we still hadn't got to the tracks where we usually excel at, so we were feeling confident that we stood a very strong chance of winning the championship back. Then something started to go wrong that I couldn't explain.
After the race at Mugello I was a lot more tired than I had ever felt in a race. I was surprised because I had been training well, so I didn't really understand it and just shrugged it off as a one-off. Then during warm-up on the morning of the next race in Barcelona I was worn out after just a few laps. I was so tired I went back to bed and slept for two hours.
That afternoon was when it really hit, exactly as everybody saw on the television. It didn't come on slowly, the fatigue hit me with a big bang after about five laps. One minute I was okay and then suddenly I had so little strength that I was just hanging on to the bike by the end of the race, so exhausted that I could barely get off it in parc ferme. I couldn't walk or talk, I just wanted to throw up and almost collapsed on the podium.
I had seen doctors about some tiredness back in Australia in 2006. They said I had chronic fatigue syndrome, which they put down to a combination of my diet and my busy schedule. But this time it was far more serious and it seemed that no matter what I tried to do to make myself better I only got worse. I started having more recovery drinks made up of milk and whey powder and my condition continued to deteriorate even more rapidly.
I didn't suspect that what I was doing to help was causing even more problems. We battled on but by the end of every race I was struggling just to stay upright. Nobody knew more than me that things weren't good but the tension started to build with Ducati as well.
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