Ballerini and Vandenbroucke honoured this weekend
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Thursday, June 3, 2010

Ballerini and Vandenbroucke honoured this weekend

by Samuel Morrison at 6:58 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling

Franco BalleriniFranco Ballerini and Frank Vandenbroucke memories will both be honoured this weekend in their home countries.

Italian cycling will remember former national coach Ballerini Saturday at his home town of Cantagrillo with the Franco Ballerini Day criterium. After a service at the Cantagrillo cemetery, the race will cover 22 laps of a 4.7-kilometres circuit, totalling 103.4 kilometres.

The race has attracted several of the riders who raced under Ballerini, including Filippo Pozzato (Katusha), Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-Farnese Vini) and Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Doimo). Teams include Astana, Quick Step, Lampre-Farnese Vini, Liquigas, Team Katusha, ISD-Neri, De Rosa, CarmioOro, Ceramica Flaminia, Colnago-CSF, Acqua & Sapone, Androni Giocattoli, CDC Cavaliere and Amore & Vita.

Ballerini, 45, suffered fatal injuries February 7 in a rally car race. The Renault car he co-piloted strayed off course and went headfirst into a wall in Larciano, a short distance away from Cantagrillo.

As rider, he twice won Paris-Roubaix and, as a national couch, he directed Italy to four gold medals: one at the Olympics in 2004 with Paolo Bettini and three at the World Championshps (two with Bettini and one with Alessandro Ballan).

Vandenbroucke turned professional in 1994 and raced with Ballerini from 1995 to 1998 in team Mapei. He won Gent-Wevelgem, Paris-Nice, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, Omloop Het Volk. Last October, he died of a pulmonary embolism in Saly, Senegal.

"Sunday is the first ever VDB Forever Classic, a tribute tour ending at his last resting place," explained Mattan this week.

Unlike the Franco Ballerini Day criterium, the VDB Forever Classic in Belgium is a ride open to all cyclists. Juan Antonio Flecha, Johan Museeuw, Peter Van Petegem, Nico Mattan, Jo Planckaert, Chris Peers, Steve De Wolf, Rudy Pevenage, Serge Baguet, Simone Masciarelli and Andrea Tafi have all confirmed their participation in the last two days.

The ride covers 110 kilometres, from Steenhuize-Wijnhuize to Ploegsteert.


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