Alessandro Ballan gets a long awaited win in the Giro della Toscana
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Sunday, April 29, 2012

Alessandro Ballan gets a long awaited win in the Giro della Toscana

by Ben Atkins at 2:55 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results
 
Former World champion takes first victory since 2009, and first in BMC Racing colours

alessandro ballanAlessandro Ballan (BMC Racing) took his first victory since the 2009 Tour of Poland - and his first in the red and black colours of the American superteam - as he outsprinted Carlos Betancur (Acqua & Sapone) and Valerio Agnoli (Liquigas-Cannondale) to take the 85th edition of the Giro della Toscana. The 2008 World champion was the instigator of a late attack in the 199km race, between Montecatini Terme and Arezzo, and still had the power left to beat his breakaway companions to the line.

“I was feeling good and we had a very strong team here today,” said Ballan “When we went over the major climb of the day (with 55 km to go), I think we had seven guys in the lead group of 40.”

Ballan’s strong spring campaign has mirrored that of the rest of his illustrious teammates, with his fourth place in the Strade Bianche, and third places in both the Ronde van Vlaanderen and Paris-Roubaix, compensating a little for the disappointing form of riders like Philippe Gilbert.

The 34-year-old now looks to the next phase of his season, where he hopes to perform in his home Grand Tour.

“I have a lot of motivation with this victory and it's good for our morale going into the Giro d'Italia,” he said.

The hilly Tuscan parcours saw the peloton steadily reduced the 114-strong peloton, with just 46 riders making it over the 672 metre high Cronaca, after 134.4km, in the front group. An attack of fourteen riders got away on the first of two 14.2km finishing circuits, which featured the short, sharp climb of Stoppe d’Arca, but it was pulled back before the second lap began.

“I thought the race was going to go there but Farnese-Vini - even though they had a guy in the group - pulled it back,” said BMC Racing’s assistant directeur sportif Max Sciandri. “Our team did an incredible job today. The plan was to race for Mauro Santambrogio [who was runner-up in 2011 - ed], keeping Mathias [Frank] in mind and having Ballan and Marco Pinotti as wild cards. But with 20 kilometres to go, Ballan came to me and said he was feeling good today.”

On the second lapBallan attacked, taking Betancur and Agnoli with him, along with Agnoli’s Liquigas-Cannondale teammate Moreno Moser, and Matej Mugerli (Adria Mobil).

With two riders from Liquigas-Cannondale in the final group of five, Moser made a dash for the line in the final kilometre, with Mugerli in tow. The duo was pulled back by the others however, with Agnoli launching his sprint with 200 metres to go. Ballan pulled past the 27-year-old in the final 50 metres, with Betancur on his wheel, to take his first victory in almost two and half years in BMC Racing colours.

Result Giro della Toscana (1.1)
1. Alessandro Ballan (Ita) BMC Racing Team
2. Carlos Betancur (Col) Acqua & Sapone
3. Valerio Agnoli (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale
4. Matej Mugerli (Slo) Adria Mobil
5. Moreno Moser (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale @ 4s
6. Marco Frapporti (Ita) Team Idea @ 9s
7. Serguei Klimov (Rus) RusVelo @ 18s
8. Marko Kump (Slo) Adria Mobil
9. Damiano Caruso (Ita) Liquigas-Cannondale
10. Elia Favilli (Ita) Farnese Vini-Selle Italia

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