Ballan speaks out after being overlooked for Italian Worlds team

2008 world champion Alessandro Ballan has openly criticized Italian national coach Paolo Bettini after he was not included in the Italian team for the Melbourne world championships.

Ballan was bitterly disappointed to miss out on a place, claiming Bettini had told him he would be selected.

"I'm disappointed because I'd spoken to Bettini and he told me the course suited me and I would have been in the team. He's made a decision and I respect that but I don’t agree with it," Ballan lamented to the Corriere della Sera newspaper.

"I've always got on well with Bettini but perhaps my big mistake was not calling him up every day. I spoke to Cadel Evans about the course in Melbourne and he told me that if the weather is bad, it'll be just like the Tour of Flanders, a race I've won. Last November Ballerini called me after he saw the course and told me the same thing. Bettini said the same thing in August after he saw the course…."

Ballan won the world title on home roads in Varese in 2008 and hoped to be part of the 11-rider squad named for this year's road race. However he was left out, with Bettini preferring Filippo Pozzato, Giovanni Visconti and Vincenzo Nibali as team leaders.

Ballan has had a disappointing first season with BMC with his best results a second place on stage 15 of the Tour de France and third in the Italian national championships.

He was implicated in the Mantua doping investigation in April and missed Paris-Roubaix after he was suspended from racing by the BMC team. However he was brought back into the squad after an internal investigation and rode the Tour of Switzerland and Tour de France.

He finished sixth at the recent Gran Prix Cycliste de Quebec and tenth at the Gran Prix Cycliste de Montreal but Bettini claimed he had not shown enough form to secure a place in the Italian team. Also missing out on place in the team are Damiano Cunego, sprinter Daniele Bennati, Enrico Gasparotto and Mauro Santambrogio. Cunego has often had a key role in the Italian squad and finished second behind Ballan in Varese but had already admitted he did not have the form to deserve a place this year.

Bettini explained that he did not want to select Ballan for a minor-domestique role but the lanky BMC rider said he was willing to ready to work in any role.

"There are a lot of good riders in the team but they're suffering in long races, while when things get hard, I get better."

Ballan will now target the end of season races such as Paris-Tours and the Tour of Lombardy.


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