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Italian cycling remembers Franco Ballerini

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Franco Ballerini in rally mode. Motorsport was a passion of the Italian national coach

Franco Ballerini in rally mode. Motorsport was a passion of the Italian national coach
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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The late Franco Ballerini is honored on the Paris-Rouxbaix start line.

The late Franco Ballerini is honored on the Paris-Rouxbaix start line.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Franco Ballerini savours the moment as he collects the winners trophy in the 1998 Paris-Roubaix

Franco Ballerini savours the moment as he collects the winners trophy in the 1998 Paris-Roubaix
(Image credit: AFP)

Italian cycling will remember former national coach Franco Ballerini on Saturday, with the first edition of the Franco Ballerini Day criterium.

Ballerini twice won Paris-Roubaix as a rider and was in charge of the Italian team that won gold in the Athens Olympics with Paolo Bettini and won three world titles with Bettini and Alessandro Ballan. He was killed in a car rally accident on February 7 near his home in Tuscany.

The 103.4km race will cover 22 laps of a 4.7km circuit around Ballerini's home town of Cantagrillo.

Several big name riders have promised to ride including Italian national champion Filippo Pozzato (Katusha), Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-Farnese Vini) and Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Doimo). Other riders who completed the Giro d'Italia are also expected to take part, especially those who rode with or under Ballerini in the Italian 'azzurri' team at world championships and Olympics.

Teams set to ride include Astana, Quick Step, Lampre – Farnese Vini, Liquigas, Team Katusha, ISD – Neri, De Rosa – Stac Plastic, Carmiooro, Ceramica Flaminia, Colnago – Csf, Acqua & Sapone, Androni Giocattoli, CDC Cavaliere and Amore & Vita.

Before the race a special memorial service will be held at the cemetery where Ballerini is buried.