By Gregor Brown and Bjorn Haake
Alessandro Ballan (Lampre-Fondital) added another impressive win to his collection for the season at the 12th Vattenfall Cyclassics in Germany. The Italian rode off the front of the ProTour event seemingly unintentionally with 500m to go. Looking over his shoulder a few times, he held on to take victory ahead of Oscar Freire (Rabobank) and Gerald Ciolek (T-Mobile).
"I was not really thinking about it," said the rider from Castelfranco after the win. "I was thinking about [Daniele] Bennati [for the sprint]. I really did not think I could do it, seriously."
But the victorious Ballan knew he was riding well before the race. "I left the Tour [de France] in good shape, then a fourth place in San Sebastián. I continued to ride well and came here with good form."
The day's main break was caught near the end, going toward Hamburg as key teams worked for their sprinters. T-Mobile was gearing up for in-form Gerald Ciolek. Rabobank for Freire, and Lampre for Daniele Bennati
A massive crash put paid to a 'bunch' sprint with two kilometers to go. Claudio Corioni (Lampre-Fondital) went flying on the right side of the road and came down tangled with Norwegian Thor Hushovd (Crédit Agricole). It wasn't the only crash of the day. Tom Boonen (Quick.Step-Innergetic) withdrew after crashing and injuring his arm with 20km to go.
Ballan is set to sign a big contract for 2008 and beyond, but there is still no indication if it will be a renewal with Lampre.