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Ballan and Kroon return this weekend

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Former Ronde champion Alessandro Ballan (BMC)

Former Ronde champion Alessandro Ballan (BMC) (Image credit: Sirotti)
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BMC Racing Classics expert Karsten Kroon.

BMC Racing Classics expert Karsten Kroon. (Image credit: Bert Geerts/
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BMC Racing teammates Mauro Santambrogio and world champion Cadel Evans.

BMC Racing teammates Mauro Santambrogio and world champion Cadel Evans. (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Alessandro Ballan and Karsten Kroon will return to competition this weekend at the GP Kanton Aargau-Gippingen as preparation for the upcoming Tour de Suisse.

Ballan was withdrawn from racing in April due to questions surrounding the Lampre-Farnese Vini squad, raised during the Mantova doping investigation by Italian police. The probe is centred around pharmacist Guido Nigrelli in the tiny village of Mariana Mantovana in northern Italy.

The 2008 world champion formerly rode for the Italian team and was consequently withdrawn from eligibility for any of BMC Racing's race rosters while the matter was being dealt with. Countryman and teammate Mauro Santambrogio was also listed as a person of interest and subsequently sidelined but was later allowed to ride the Giro d'Italia when investigators made no connection between the young rider and the alleged doping offences.

Ballan was absent from the team's Paris-Roubaix lineup and hasn't ridden since April; he has featured on BMC Racing's roster on a handful of occasions in 2010 and despite being heralded as one of the outfit's stars, has been largely absent this season.

BMC Racing directeur sportif John Lelangue said that whilst Ballan may not have been racing, he remains in condition to successfully return to competition. "It's good for them [Ballan and Kroon] to have one more racing day before the Tour de Suisse," he admitted. "Ballan has always been training as if he was racing so he's in really good shape."

Meanwhile, Kroon has recovered from facial fractures suffered when he crashed during Flèche Wallonne, which teammate Cadel Evans went on to win. The Dutchman is another important part of the team's lineup due to his Classics experience but has been forced to spend the last five weeks on the sidelines.

He'll join Ballan and Santambrogio, Mathias Frank, Florian Stalder, Danilo Wyss and Simon Zahner in the Tour de Suisse warmup event this Sunday in a squad that may be the best reflection of BMC Racing's depth thus far in 2010.

The team will also start six riders in the TD Bank Philadelphia International Cycling Championship, with Chris Barton, Chad Beyer, Chris Butler, Alexander Kristoff, John Murphy and Jackson Stewart lining up for the prestigious American race on Sunday afternoon.

"With some guys coming out of the Giro, it was not realistic to send them when they need to recover," explained Lelangue. "But I believe [Alexander] Kristoff and [John] Murphy have shown in the last couple of weeks that they have big potential."