MotoGP legend Valentino Rossi has been rated the best athlete of the last decade in an Italian sports poll - beating fellow multiple motor racing world champions Michael Schumacher and S?bastien Loeb to the honour.

The Yamaha rider featured prominently in a number of end-of-2009 polls, gaining more than 40 per cent of readers' votes in Italian newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport - putting 'The Doctor' comfortably ahead of tennis star Roger Federer (13.8 percent) and World and Olympic 100m and 200m king Usain Bolt (8.8 per cent). F1 comeback kid Schumacher, for his part, logged only 7.4 per cent of the votes - but even that put the German ahead of Italy's national football team.

In Tuttosport magazine, meanwhile, Rossi tallied a staggering 48.6 percent to top the list, well clear of Bolt on 12.4 per cent and Federer on 11 per cent. In Spain, the 30-year-old was pipped by Federer in a poll of nigh-on 30,000 readers of daily newspaper El Mundo, with athletes themselves similarly placing Rossi runner-up in an El Pais survey, only this time behind Bolt - albeit ahead of a number of homegrown favourites from NBA basketball player Marc Gasol to tennis aces David Ferrer and Juan Carlos Ferrero and cyclists Samuel Sanchez, Carlos Sastre and Alejandro Valverde, as well as motorcyclists Toni Bou and Marc Coma.

In France, finally, Rossi placed third in a poll conducted by sports newspaper L'?quipe, trailing Bolt and Federer but in front of Frenchman Loeb, who in 2009 lifted his record-breaking, sixth straight World Rally Championship (WRC) crown with Citro?n.