Alessandro Ballan’s second runner-up finish at Strade Bianche gives him heart for the classics
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Saturday, March 05, 2011

Alessandro Ballan’s second runner-up finish at Strade Bianche gives him heart for the classics

by Ben Atkins at 3:35 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics
 
2008 World champion unable to overcome Philippe Gilbert but happy with form

alessandro ballanAlessandro Ballan (BMC Racing) finished second in today’s Montepaschi Strade Bianche behind Philippe Gilbert (OmegaPharma-Lotto), taking his second runner-up spot of the season so far. For the 2008 World champion though, today’s result was his best in a major, single-day, spring race since his second place here in 2008.

That year he went on to finish 4th in the Ronde van Vlaanderen, where he was the defending champion, and 3rd in Paris-Roubaix, equalling his best result there of two years before.

The BMC Racing Team seemed to have got everything right in the race; placing a strong rider in Greg Van Avermaet in the twelve-man break allowed Ballan to sit comfortably in the peloton as the other teams in the race were required to do all the work.

In the final kilometres Ballan had the strength, along with Lampre-ISD’s Damiano Cunego, to follow the attack from eventual race winner Gilbert. The Belgian was too strong for both Italians though, although Ballan was able to hold off Cunego to take second.

"I was behind Philippe Gilbert, and Damiano Cunego was on my wheel," said the 2008 World champion. "Gilbert took the inside and I didn't want to pass him on the outside because I was afraid that I would crash.”

In the end, Gilbert’s line proved to have been the right one to take, and the Belgian added the Strade Bianche to his already impressive list of major victories.

Ballan though, can take some heart from his own performance over the course that is often known as the “Italian Paris-Roubaix”.

“Overall, I'm happy with my condition,” he said. “It bodes well for the upcoming races."

Should Ballan be able to recapture his form, and match or better his results, of 2008 he will surely be very satisfied.

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