BMC Racing's Ballan and Kroon return to the peloton
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Friday, June 4, 2010

BMC Racing's Ballan and Kroon return to the peloton

by VeloNation Press at 10:14 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping, Injury
Key riders back as the Tour de France approaches

Karsten KroonBMC Racing's Karsten Kroon and Alessandro Ballan will make their return to racing this weekend at the GP Kanton Aargau-Gippingen in Switzerland.  Both riders missed important appointments during the spring for entirely different reasons.

Kroon fell heavily during Fléche Wallonne and sustained injuries to his face that required surgery.  The Dutchman came away with a broken nose, cheekbone and sinus bone on the right side of his face after his painful introduction to a guardrail.  Initially he thought he would be back in time to take the start in the Tour of California, but doctors delayed his return to ensure he would be fully recovered.

In early April Ballan was pulled from the BMC Racing line-up as a precautionary measure following disturbing news from Italy.  La Gazzetta Dello Sport reported that a major anti-doping investigation was taking place in the town of Mariana Mantovana in Northern Italy and that team officials, as well as current and former riders with the Lampre squad, which included Ballan, were amongst those being scrutinised for their links with the coach Guido Nigrelli.

Alessandro BallanThere was no evidence proving Ballan's involvement at the time, but the team decided to sideline him temporarily until they could assess the situation. Last week the team announced that the former World champion would be returning to the peloton soon.

“The BMC Racing Team has concluded its internal investigation regarding rider Alessandro Ballan,” it announced.

“The BMC Racing Team could not find indications that Alessandro Ballan was involved in any doping in connection with his former team, Lampre. Alessandro Ballan has fully cooperated with the Italian authority and has provided the investigation authority with all requested information and even more.

“Apart of that, no sporting authority has opened a proceeding against Alessandro Ballan so far. Given all these aspects, the BMC Team has no reason at all to not respect the presumption of innocence and will no longer withhold Alessandro Ballan from competition.”

The Italian investigation is headed by Antonino Condorelli and the other prosecutors of Mantua, and has been in process for close to two years. It relates to the period between 1 January 2008 to July 31, 2009, although some of the investigations go beyond this timeframe.

BMC Racing's Director Sportif John Lelangue said Sunday's race will help his riders build form before they take part in their next stage race.  "It's good for them to have one more racing day before the Tour de Suisse," Lelangue said. "Ballan has always been training as if he was racing so he's in really good shape."


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