Alessandro Ballan maintains his helper mentality despite becoming World Champion in September. The Italian of Team Lampre expects to lead in his favourite races and fill a domestique roll other events on the 2009 calendar.
"There are those who expect that I will now become a captain. However, in the Northern Classics of the last there years, I was already the captain," Ballan said to La Gazzetta dello Sport.
Ballan started his career slowly, but his win in the 2007 Ronde Van Vlaanderen put his name amongst the greats. The 2007 and 2008 season's continued quietly with frequent wins, cumulating with the win in Varese, Italy, on September 28. He topped off Team Italy's dominance and took the World Champion's rainbow jersey.
"I won't change. Champions are born and remain protagonists, even in self-serving competitive aspects. But, as in my case, you can become a champion. If you have started off as a domestique, inside of you remains that instinct to put yourself at the service of others when it is not your race or when it is not your day, like when I helped [teammate] Damiano Cunego at the Giro di Lombardia."
Ballan will join his Lampre teammates at the first of the team's 2009 training camps. The Italian ProTour team meets December 9 to 12 in Boario Terme, Italy.