Italian Alessandro Ballan will make his debut appearance for the 2013 season after crashing during a training camp last December. The BMC rider broke his femur and one of his ribs whilst also underwent surgery to have his spleen removed. The one-day race in Switzerland will see a large number of the WorldTour teams line-up for the 50th edition of the event.
Ballan missed the entire spring season, where he boasts a number of high-finish results and one Tour of Flanders (2007) crown to his name. In 2012, Ballan was the team's most consistent rider throughout the cobbled races and completed an impressive run with fourth at Strade Bianche, eight at Milan-San Remo and third at both Flanders and Paris-Roubaix.
This year Ballan attended a Flanders in support of his teammates and sported a scar on his left leg from his surgery to repair the femur with a 40-stitch scar down the centre of his chest a further reminder of the seriousness of his crash.
The 33-year-old is racing this Thursday without pressure to perform and has already outlined his objective is simply to finish the race.
"I feel good and have been living and training at altitude for 12 days, so my sensations are good. But I don't know how I will do in the races because of the changes of pace. My goal is simply to finish. I also want to thank all the people who have been close to me in this period, particularly my family, my friends and the team," said Ballan in a team statement.
BMC team director Max Sciandri expressed his joy with having the seasoned classics campaigner back on the road and pin-pointed Greg Van Avermaet to most likely lead the squad against the likes of Vancansoleil-DCM, Orica GreenEdge, RadioShack Leopard, Astana and Kastusha.
"It will be great to have him there and we have a team that can really do something," he said. "Greg Van Avermaet is riding well and hopefully some of the guys who did the Giro d'Italia are coming out of it in good condition," he said.