(CNN) -- Valentino Rossi snapped a near three-year victory drought in MotoGP by claiming the Dutch round at Assen Saturday, but said the real "hero" had been his Yamaha teammate Jorge Lorenzo who took a brave fifth with a broken collarbone.
The defending world champion crashed at 200kph in practice earlier this week and underwent an operation in Barcelona early Friday on his injuries.
Passed fit to race, he finished just behind fellow Spaniard and current title leader Dani Pedrosa to concede just two points in the overall standings, trailing him by nine after seven rounds.
"For me he is the hero of the day," Rossi told the official MotoGP website.
"When he told me he was going to ride, I thought there was no way he could. Two days after a terrible accident and such an operation is amazing."
But for the legendary Italian, it was also a welcome return to the top of the podium after two disappointing seasons with Ducati.
"I'm happy but I can't believe it and it's a great feeling to be back in first position," he admitted.
"It's been a long, long time since Sepang 2010 and during those years I've ask myself the question: 'Can I get back to first position?'
"But I've never given up and I've always worked hard because this is my passion. I love to ride and race motorcycles."
It was the nine-time world champion's 80th victory in MotoGP, the premier class of motorcycling, and pushes him up to fifth in the overall standings, but still 51 points adrift of Pedrosa.
Marc Marquez of Spain finished second for Honda ahead Britain's Cal Clutchlow, who had claimed the first pole position of his career Friday.
Marquez is third in the overall standings, 23 points adrift of teammate Pedrosa, after riding with injuries of his own.
"I am, happy with the result given that I have a fractured small finger on my right hand and a broken big toe," he said.
But Marquez was unable to make much impression on Rossi, who took the checkered flag to a massive roar from the devoted motorcycling fans at one of the best attended races on the calendar.
The eighth round of the championship takes place in Germany in two weeks time.