The decision to sign with BMC Racing Team was relatively easy for Alessandro Ballan. It was based on a desire to try something new.
“I liked that BMC was a smaller team,” commented Ballan. “I wanted to try a new approach to racing. When I heard that George Hincapie was part of the team, I called him and asked him how he felt about BMC. George said he was happy and that is when I decided to join the team. I see having George on the team as a definite strength. I wanted to ride with riders like Kroon and Hincapie. I love having strong riders on the team. Joining BMC had nothing to do with Lampre’s situation. When I was Lampre, the team gave no indication that there were any problems.”
Ballan has proven that he can succeed while riding for a team full of leaders. In September 2008, Ballan won the UCI Road Race World Championships. The Italian team was loaded with favorites. Paolo Bettini, Damiano Cunego and Davide Rebellins were team mates of Ballan. From a group of 12 riders, including two Italian team mates, Ballan attacked from 1500 meters out and held off the sprint to win the rainbow jersey.
With BMC, Ballan will have George Hincapie and Marcus Burghardt as co-leaders in the Spring Classics. “It will not be a problem whatsoever,” stated Ballan. “I look forward to working with Hincapie and Burghardt in the Classics. It is up to the conditions of the race.”
2009 was quite frustrating for Ballan. After a solid run up to the Monte Paschi Eroica race in February, Ballan was suddenly struck down with cytomegalovirus. The viral infection prevented him from riding Milano-San Remo, Ronde van Vlaanderen or Paris-Roubaix. It also prevented him from riding in the Giro.
“I was stressed about having the rainbow jersey and not being able to ride the big races like Flanders, Paris- Roubaix,” said Ballan. “The whole team was very prepared for the Classics.” Ballan recaptured his 2009 season with a solid win of the overall jersey at the Tour of Poland.
For the first time the Giro will be on Ballan’s racing program. “Cadel will be riding the Giro this year. I will be there to give Cadel 100% of my effort. My hope is to see Cadel in the pick jersey. My personal goal is to go after stage wins while helping Cadel.”
“Liquigas will bring a very strong team to the Giro,” continued Ballan. “Basso and Pellizotti will play key roles. I also see Sastre to be strong.”
“I am well and feeling very relaxed right now. The last couple of days of training have been very good. I look forward to starting my season….racing the Tour of Qatar.”