By Gregor Brown
Alessandro Ballan of Team Lampre-NGC put a stop to the appointments and presentations that filled his time since becoming World Champion last September 28. The Italian is training and focused on winning the Tour of Flanders in the rainbow jersey.
"I have had to say 'stop' to some of the appointments because it was becoming too much. I have a few things left to do, but they are only in the evening, and I always find time to train in the mornings," said Ballan to Cyclingnews.
Ballan lit up the finale of the World Championships with a successful solo attack at three kilometres remaining. It was a move made possible with Italian teammates Damiano Cunego and Davide Rebellin in the following group.
The win added to his list of palmarès that includes the 2007 Tour of Flanders. However, Ballan knows if he has any chance to get back on the top of the podium in Belgium he has to train. Following a break, he returned to regular training November 22 on home roads in Northeast Italy's Veneto region.
"I rode on Christmas Day with Matteo Tosatto and Marco Bandiera. I wanted to ride New Years Day, but, unfortunately, there was snow New Year's Eve. The next day the roads were impassable with snow and ice and I was unable to go. Anyway, I went the next day."
Ballan will start his season in Tuscany at either the GP Etruschi in Donoratico or the Giro di Grosseto. He wants to be on form for the Ronde van Vlaanderen Flanders and Paris-Roubaix, where he finished third last season.
"I am thinking mainly of Flanders and Roubaix, but Milano-Sanremo is 10 days earlier so I will give it a go."