It is the day every MotoGP fan hoped would never arrive.
But all good things must come to an end, and Valentino Rossi has crossed the finish line for the final time. The nine-time world champion brought down the curtain on his remarkable career on two wheels, riding off into the retirement sunset.
At the end of what has been a difficult season for 'the Doctor', the Italian finished 10th in Valencia as Francesco Bagnaia - a protege of Rossi's and wearing a replica helmet - led a historic first one-two-three for Ducati, with Jorge Martin and Jack Miller second and third.
Victory was Italian Bagnaia's fourth of the season, finishing the campaign in second overall as Frenchman Fabio Quartararo took his maiden world title - but this day was all about one man.
"This race victory is a present to Valentino," said 24-year-old Bagnaia, a product of Rossi's VR46 academy.
Rossi, 42, was surprised before the race by his hero Ronaldo, 20 years on from his first meeting with the former Brazil striker in Milan.
On his 432nd race start, Rossi started in 10th before gaining a place on the opening lap.
The Petronas SRT rider soon dropped back into 11th, before a crash for Takaaki Nakagami pushed him back into the top 10, holding on to that position until the end for his fourth top-10 finish of the season.
As Ronaldo waved the chequered flag, Rossi was greeted by a wall of yellow as his loyal fans waved flags in the 75,000-strong crowd, before he was mobbed by his team and fellow riders.
Video messages from the likes of tennis greats Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, as well as Hollywood actors Tom Cruise and Keanu Reeves were broadcast on the giant screen.
Accompanied by fireworks, Rossi enjoyed a lap of honour before bringing his bike to a stop for the final time.
"I want to dedicate this race to him and thank him for what he has done for us at the academy," added Bagnaia.
"Before this weekend, I didn't think it was possible [to win]... but we arrived here as one of the fastest teams. It's the best way to finish."
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