Ballan set to leave Lampre

World champion Alessandro Ballan (Lampre-NGC)

World champion Alessandro Ballan (Lampre-NGC) (Image credit: Sirotti)

Italian Alessandro Ballan is prepared to leave team Lampre after five years and wins in the Ronde van Vlaanderen and the World Championships. He said yesterday that he is unhappy with the team's current proposed contract.

"I have always like being at Lampre, but I believe it is over. They proposed only a one-year contract, I won't accept," Ballan told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

Ballan's current contract with Italy's Lampre team expires at the end of 2009. He became professional with team in 2005 thanks partially to bike supplier Wilier.

"It's been a great period with Ballan," team manager Giuseppe Saronni told Cyclingnews. "He turned professional with us and made it to the top of cycling, the World Championships and Ronde van Vlaanderen.

"It's true, we made a one-year offer, we were not able to offer a contract of two years. He refused it and we have to accept he will no longer be with the team in 2010."

Ballan established himself as a one-day rider with wins in the 2005 Trofeo Laigueglia and 2007 Ronde van Vlaanderen. Last year he finished fourth in Ronde, third in Paris-Roubaix and won the World Championships.

Ballan has failed to win in the World Champion's rainbow jersey due to a virus that wiped out his spring and set him back for the summer. He has returned to racing, recently at the Tour de France and now in the Tour of Poland, and other teams are taking notice.

"The market is open," Ballan told La Gazzetta dello Sport. "Lance Armstrong, Astana, Sky and Rabobank want me, there is not a shortage of opportunities. To race with Lance [Armstrong at new team RadioShack] would be fantastic."

Rabobank and Sky told Cyclingnews they were uninterested in signing Ballan. "We truly respect Alessandro as a person and as a professional rider, but we don't have any interest in signing him for next year," said Rabobank's spokesman, Luuc Eisenga. Scott Sunderland of Sky said the same of Ballan.

Ballan could sign a contract before defending his World Champion title September 27 in Mendrisio, Switzerland. After Poland, he will race the Vuelta a España with Damiano Cunego as preparation for Worlds. Cunego finished second to Ballan at Worlds last year in Varese, Italy.

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