BMC strengthens team for 2010 with World Champ Ballan and USA's Hincapie

Alessandro Ballan (Lampre-N.G.C) at the startline of the GP Ouest France

Alessandro Ballan (Lampre-N.G.C) at the startline of the GP Ouest France (Image credit: AFP)

BMC Racing announced today it signed several important riders for the coming season, including World Champion Alessandro Ballan and US Champion George Hincapie.

"When we started with the idea of the BMC Racing Team, we had a plan which would one day elevate us to the highest level of professional racing. That day is today," read a press statement by co-owners, Jim Ochowicz and Andy Rihs.

The team also announced the addition of Marcus Burghardt (Columbia-HTC), Karsten Kroon (Saxo Bank), Steve Morabito (Astana), Michael Schär (Astana) and Simon Zahner (neo-pro) will join the team.

Ballan, Hincapie and Burghardt are all specialists in one-day races, like Ronde van Vlaanderen and Paris-Roubaix.

"I will have new motivation working with them," said Ballan. Milan-Sanremo, Paris-Roubaix and the Belgian Classics are some of his 2010 goals, he said.

Ballan, 29, 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.

Hincapie, seven times in the top ten at Roubaix, will be a captain and a mentor. "Definitely the idea of working with the young team and helping to build the program appealed to me," he said.

Burghardt, 26, is a developing one-day rider. He already has two major wins, a stage of the 2008 Tour de France and the 2007 Gent-Wevelgem. He and Hincapie both leave USA's Columbia-HTC.

Kroon, 33, won a stage in the 2006 Tour and finished second in the Amstel Gold this year.

BMC is a second division team, or Professional Continental, based in Santa Rosa, California. The team came about in 2008 from the former team Phonak, with John Lelangue continuing as director sportif.

It may apply for a top division licence, ProTour, or rely on wild card invitations to the top races. This year the team raced the Dauphiné Libéré and one-day Classic Paris-Roubaix.

"The signing of big-name riders will place the BMC in a new level," read a press release. BMC did not say if it would apply for a ProTour licence.

All riders signed a two-year contract, with the exception of Zahner. He signed for one year.


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