"My brother had been given a new bike and I pouted, so then my dad came up with one for me." That is how the winner of the Ronde van Vlaanderen got his start in cycling, thanks to his brother's insistence and his dad's love. Alessandro Ballan's dad fixed an old bike that was left on its own in the garage.
"Why did he get a bike and not me?" Ballan said with a laugh to La Gazzetta dello Sport on Sunday evening in Meerbeke. "My dad found this rusty bike, maybe already half-dead, abandoned in the corner of the garage. He took sandpaper to it, repainted it [red - ed.] and then gave it to me. It was like new. From that day I have not stopped pedalling."
Ballan, 18 years later, pedalled his way to victory after 259 kilometres of racing in Belgium's biggest one-day race. His brother, Andrea, two years older, was there to witness his heroics. Andrea, professional for one year, 2002, with De Nardi, watched Alessandro form the race winning move on the Muur.
Read the review of Ballan's Wilier Le Roi bicycle, Ballan's Belgian machine.