Franco Ballerini has fatal rally car accident
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Sunday, February 7, 2010

Ballerini has fatal rally car accident

by Bjorn Haake at 7:38 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, General

Italian National team coach Franco Ballerini died Sunday morning in an accident while participating in the Rally Ronde di Larciano in Tuscany. He was 45 years old. La Gazzetta dello Sport reported that Ballerini was the co-pilot for Alessandro Ciardi. Cardi came off the road and hit a wall. Both Cardi and Ballerini were transferred to a hospital in Pistoia. The doctors were not able to save Ballerini's life, while Cardi is currently in a coma.

The accident happened in a forested area, but the reason why Cardi came off the road is not clear yet. They hit a wall face-on and were catapulted back to the road. Paramedics were stationed just 50 meters from the scene, and they tried to revive Ballerini for 45 minutes. But the Italian died from brain injuries, having fractured his cranial. Ballerini also had chest and leg injuries. Cardi broke his pelvis.

The Italian cycling word was quite shocked. Former coach Alfredo Martini was there, as well as Paolo Bettini, to give their condolences to Ballerini's wife. Bettini was in fact scheduled to do the Rally Ronde di Larciano with Ballerini, but due to his obligations for organizing the Gran Premio Costa degli Etruschi yesterday had to cancel his car racing plans.

Ballerini on the other hand was really eager to do the rally, since it was virtually at home for him. Bettini and Ballerini participated in that rally the last two years, with Bettini driving and Ballerini as co-pilot.

During his 15 years as a professional cyclist, Ballerini's crowning achievement was winning Paris-Roubaix two times in 1995 and 1998.  He also won Omloop Het Volk (1995), Paris-Brussels (1990) and Giro del Piemonte (1990) and after retiring as a professional guided the Squadra Azzurri to four road world champion titles and one Olympic title.


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