While he wasn't high on the list of possible winners leading into the Ronde van Vlaanderen, after taking victory at the Belgian Spring Classic Alessandro Ballan will be a marked man in the ProTour peloton. Cyclingnews' Gregor Brown spoke with the Italian as he rolled into Meerbeke on the weekend.
Alessandro Ballan succeeded in doing what no Italian has done since 'The Gladiator', Andrea Tafi, did in 2002: he won the monumental Spring Classic Ronde van Vlaanderen. The 27 year-old, who finished sixth and fifth at the event in 2005 and 2006 respectively, bolted away from the likes of Tom Boonen, Fabian Cancellara and Paolo Bettini on the Muur. He travelled the final 16 kilometres to Meerbeke with only Leif Hoste (Predictor-Lotto) for company.
"The sprint was tough: Hoste put me in front for the last one and a half kilometres," explained Ballan, clearly content with the victory.
Hoste forced Ballan to work in the closing metres before he attacked with just 150 metres remaining. "He started with a great advantage," explained the Italian. "He went strong but I kept it going. I had a hard time holding onto his wheel but then I was able to come around."
Ballan has far less experience on the Northern pavé than his Belgian rivals, but he let his legs make up for the fact that he grew up in Italy. "I felt a little bit behind on the Muur and then I started moving up," he explained. "It worked out well and I was able to make my move: I saw that Boonen was in difficulty."
To read the full interview, click here.