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First race in 84 days for Ballan
Teams, including CSF Group-Navigare and Lampre-NGC, are gearing up for the Memorial Marco Pantani road race, a UCI category 1.1 event in Italy that's part of the UCI's European tour. The Memorial Pantani will be the first race after the Giro d'Italia for Lampre-NGC, and notably, the race will mark the return of reigning World Champion Alessandro Ballan after an 84-day break from competition due to illness.
He'll be joined by Emanuele Bindi, Matteo Bono, Vitaliy Buts, Mauro Da Dalto, Andrea Grendene, Manuele Mori and Simone Ponzi.
"Of course we're curious to see Ballan in action," said Lampre-NGC D.S. Fabrizio Bontempi. "Alessandro is training with determination. We don't expect to see him at the top in this first race, but his fitness will increase in Tour de Suisse, his next race. For Memorial Pantani, I will really on Mori, Da Dalto and Bono, who have just finished the Giro and so they're in good form, and on the young Bindi, Buts, Grendene and Ponzi.
"Usually this race is characterized by a breakaway. We'll try to join the good one," he said.
Fortunato Baliani will lead the CSF Group-Navigare team on 183.7km of roads in Romagne, including three trips up the Montevecchio climb of Lonigiano and four finishing circuits. Baliani will be among those looking to attack and make the expected day's winning breakaway. He'll be joined by teammates Alessandro Bisolti, Michele Gaia, Umberto Nardecchia, Marcello Pavarin and Simone Stortoni, all guided by D.S. Roberto Reverberi.