Ballan: “I’m ready for Flanders”
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Thursday, April 1, 2010

Ballan: “I’m ready for Flanders”

by Ben Atkins at 1:13 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics, Tour of Flanders

alessandro ballan2007 Ronde van Vlaanderen winner Alessandro Ballan (BMC Racing) has declared that he will be one of the contenders in Sunday’s race. “I’ll be ready,” he told Sporza.

After a 2009 ruined by illness when he should have been showing off his rainbow jersey – as the latest victim of the “curse of the rainbow jersey” – Ballan has had solid, if unspectacular results so far this season. These results have been due to more health problems, although thankfully not as serious as in 2009, but overall his form is good.

"In the Tirreno[-Adriatico] I had problems with my stomach,” he said. “I'm not as good as in 2008 when I won the World Championships, but I won’t have to wait for an attack by Boonen or Cancellara on Sunday. I might anticipate with Devolder, Hoste and Flecha."

In 2007, when he won de Ronde, he won the Three Days of De Panne just a few days before. His sixteenth place this time around, 14’02” behind David Millar, was gained without really showing himself much; it is however a much better performance than any of the other riders in the field who may have designs on Sunday’s race.

A number of eyebrows were raised when Ballan decided to sign for BMC Racing, which at the time was a fairly small team. Despite this, says Ballan, and the difference between it and the Italian Lampre team that he had ridden his entire professional career for, the team is strong. He picks out one senior rider in particular, who himself has a mine of classics experience

"Even George Hincapie will be strong on Sunday,” he said. "He will definitely help me. You can see that our team is growing. It is different from an Italian team; everything is strictly organized, but I feel good at BMC.”

Since finishing 82nd on his debut in the race in 2004, Ballan’s results in de Ronde read: 6th, 5th, 1st, 4th, before his no-show due to illness last year. If he has any kind of form at all, he should be one of the players on Sunday, something that BMC Racing Team Assistant Director Michael Sayers is hopeful of.

“I think Alessandro is getting better by the day,” said Sayers. “He went pretty deep this week. I think he’s going to be significantly better than he’s been up to this point. He was not going full gas in the time trial and still did pretty well.”


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