Former world champion Ballan heads BMC Racing trio for Plouay
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Friday, August 20, 2010

Former world champion Ballan heads BMC Racing trio for Plouay

by Conal Andrews at 8:50 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
In-form Santambrogio and Kroon will also be protected riders

Alessandro BallanAs one of the final ProTour races on the 2010 calendar, this Sunday’s GP Ouest France is of major importance for teams and riders who are keen to raise their world ranking.

Former rainbow jersey wearer Alessandro Ballan is one who could thrive on the course, being a proven Classics rider who can climb on the shorter hills that will be found on the Plouay circuit.

He will head into the race as the most well-known of the BMC Racing Team riders, but will share leadership status with two others; the Italian climber Mauro Santambrogio, who was runner-up in the Coppa Agostini on Wednesday, and the Dutchman Karsten Kroon.

The latter has a particular emotional tie to the area, as BMC Racing Team’s directeur sportif John Lelangue explained. "Don't forget that Karsten won a stage of the Tour de France in Plouay, in 2002, and he's also in good shape now.”

He finished ninth on a stage in the Tour de l’Ain earlier this month.

Ballan finished second behind Pierrick Fedrigo in the 2008 GP Ouest France, and so he knows the course well. He showed good form in recently finishing fifth overall in the Tour of Poland, a race he won last year.

Aside from netting second in the Coppa Agostini, 25 year old Santambrogio was eighth in the Tre Valli Varesini on Tuesday.

The team received bad news yesterday when George Hincapie crashed heavily in the Tour of Utah. He is battling to get back into shape in time for his US national championship title defence [see separate story on VeloNation], but in the meantime the team will chase big results elsewhere. It is not taking part in the Vuelta a España and so it is putting all its energy into shorter races.

After the GP Ouest France, the team will compete in the Tour du Poitou Charentes et de la Vienne, a five-stage race that begins Tuesday.

Lelangue feels the overall strength of the team bodes well. “It's a race much like the Tour de l'Ain where we will have plenty of cards to play,” he stated.

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