The organisers of the Tour of Poland, or Tour de Pologne, have decided to observe a memorial to Franco Ballerini, the Italian national cycling team manager who died tragically on February 7 after an accident during a rally race.
The third stage of this year's Tour de Pologne, from Sosnowiec to Katowice on August 3, will be dedicated to Franco Ballerini. The general manager of the Tour de Pologne, Czeslaw Lang, remembered his friend and former team mate form the late Eighties.
"Franco began his brilliant career when mine was just coming to an end," Lang explained. "But we were lucky enough to meet and race together wearing the Del Tongo-Colnago jersey (1988) and the Malvor-Sidi-Colnago jersey (1989-1990). After that I became in 1991 his sports director on the Del Tongo-MG Maglificio.
"I understood right away that he had talent and I knew he could do great things. Franco was an exquisite person both form a human and professional standpoint, who you could compare notes with and talk to even outside of the cycling sphere. He was a champion who had style both on a bike and in everyday life. I'm proud to have known him and to have been able to race by his side."
The friendship between the two men continued until Ballerini's unexpected passing. "As a national team manager he always honoured our race as a useful phase for determining the physical fitness of his athletes as he vetted the national team for the world championships at the end of September. Now sadly Franco isn't with us any more, but his memory will stay with us as an example, especially to young cyclists who are just getting to know the bike world," Lang concluded.