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Alessandro Ballan (BMC) leads the breakaway
BMC signal aggressive strategy in Italian stage race
BMC Racing Team has signalled that it will go on the attack at this week's Tirreno-Adriatico after it named a strong line-up for the seven-stage Italian race.
The event will mark the first time the US squad's three marquee signings, Cadel Evans, Alessandro Ballan and George Hincapie, will have raced together under the BMC banner. While it will be Evans' first participation at Tirreno-Adriatico, both Ballan and Hincapie have recorded top-ten finishes in the race, including a third place result for Ballan in 2006.
Ballan's podium finish in 2006 came as a result of a strong performance in that race's stage five time trial. This year, organisers have removed the test against the clock, a decision that has prompted BMC Sports Director John Lelangue to forecast an aggressive strategy for his riders.
"I think there are three difficult stages – four, five and six – which are a little bit more hilly and selective. Knowing there is no time trial this year, every stage will be a little bit tricky," Lelangue said.
Alongside Evans, Ballan and Hincapie, Marcus Burghardt and Karsten Kroon will provide the squad with further potency on the long, hilly stages that will punctuate the race's passage to the Adriatic coast. Burghardt, in particular, has shown strong signs of good form already this year after he finished fifth and seventh in the Tours of Qatar and Oman, respectively.
Brent Bookwalter, Mathias Frank and Thomas Frei round out BMC's eight-man team.
The 2010 Tirreno-Adriatico begins in Livorno on Wednesday. Last year's edition of the race was won by Michele Scarponi (Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni - Androni Giocattoli), ahead of Stefano Garzelli (Aqua & Sapone) and Andreas Kloden (Astana).
Hincapie was the highest 2009 finisher in the current BMC roster, having recorded a 17th place result for former team Columbia-HTC.