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Italian Alessandro Ballan
Former world champion to lead BMC in Italian Grand Tour
Former world champion Alessandro Ballan will race the Giro d'Italia with BMC Racing for the first time next year. Ballan made the announcement Saturday in Milan at the presentation of the 2010 route.
"I was unable to show off the world champion jersey at the Giro this year, though it was in my plans," said Ballan. "I want to be there next year and honour the race."
Ballan won the rainbow jersey in Varese, Italy in 2008. A virus stopped him from racing most of the 2009 spring campaign and the Giro d'Italia.
He signed with BMC Racing for 2010 and 2011 in September. It will be important for the team's Giro wildcard invitation that Ballan is part of the team. The race runs May 8 to 30 and organisers will select participating teams early next year.
At the presentation in Milan Ballan saw two stages that would suit his strengths as a rider. He liked stage 14 over Monte Grappa, to Asolo, and stage seven to Montalcino. The Montalcino stage will cover around 15 of its 215 kilometres on gravel roads - the ones used in the Eroica one-day race.
Montalcino "is one of the stages that I could do well in," Ballan said. "I like it, I have done Eroica a couple of times and I know the area well. It is one of those stages where Ballan will be present."
Ballan established himself as a one-day rider with wins in the 2005 Trofeo Laigueglia and 2007 Ronde van Vlaanderen. In 2008 he finished fourth in Ronde van Vlaanderen, third in Paris-Roubaix and won the world championships.