BMC’s former World Champion Alessandro Ballan outsprinted five others Sunday in the streets of Arezzo, Italy, to win the Giro della Toscana.
Ballan forced the final selection on the last of two trips up a climb on the 14-kilometer finishing circuit in the 199 km race. “I was feeling good and we had a very strong team here today,” Ballan said after beating Carlos Betancur (Acqua & Sapone) and Liquigas-Cannondale’s Valerio Agnoli in the sprint.
“When we went over the major climb of the day (with 55 km to go), I think we had seven guys in the lead group of 40.” The victory was Ballan’s first in a road race since winning Stage 5 of the Tour de Pologne on August 6, 2009. Earlier this month, he was part of the BMC Racing Team’s winning team time trial squad at the Giro del Trentino. The 2008 world road champion also has third-place finishes at Paris-Roubaix and the Tour of Flanders to his credit this season. “I have a lot of motivation with this victory and it’s good for our morale going into the Giro d’Italia,” he said.
Early on, BMC Racing Team’s Adam Blythe and Taylor Phinney combined to help bring back a two-man breakaway that enjoyed a 12-minute lead. After the peloton was whittled down to fewer than four dozen riders over the major climb, Ballan and teammates Mathias Frank, Tim Roe and Ivan Santaromita were part of a group of 12 that gained more than a minute’s lead heading toward the first of two laps of the finishing circuits.
“I thought the race was going to go there but Farnese-Vini – even though they had a guy in the group – pulled it back,” BMC Racing Team Assistant Director Max Sciandri said. “Our team did an incredible job today. The plan was to race for Mauro Santambrogio (runner-up here a year ago), keeping Mathias in mind and having Ballan and Marco Pinotti as wild cards. But with 20 kilometers to go, Ballan came to me and said he was feeling good today.”