Talkinghop: Former World Champ Alessandro Ballan


Paul Burgoine interviews Former World Road Race Champion Alessandro Ballan of the BMC team who had a bad accident recently

RST Cycle Clothing & Trigon Bikes

Paul writes … In my opinion the real racing doesn’t start until Het Nieuwsblad (Het Volk for the old’ins out there) in a few weeks time. This event and the one that follows the next day, Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, are becoming a good warm up for the Tour of Flanders.

Over the past few years, there have been a few riders that have stood out in the crowd; one of them being Italian ex World Champion Alessandro Ballan. Ballan won Flanders in 2007 and since then has been in the mix in both Flanders and Paris-Roubaix.

Presently Alessandro is back in Italy recovering after a very nasty crash. I for one can’t wait to get him back in the peloton as in my view, he is one of the most exciting riders of his time. I was lucky enough to be able to do a short Q&A with Alessandro via e-mail.


Photo:© BMC/Tim De Waele.

PB: At this time of year myself and other fans are looking forward to the Classics as they have a special place in our hearts. How to you feel about these races Alessandro? In particular Flanders and Roubaix?
AB: I love the Classics, the atmosphere, the people and the roads … I enjoy everything about those races. In Italy we only have that kind of atmosphere in the Giro D’Italia and I wish it was like this in every race.

PB: Alessandro you finished on the podium last season in both The Tour of Flanders and Paris Roubaix. Do you think if you rode the races differently you could have improved your result?
AB: In Paris-Roubaix, I made a mistake in the sprint. I think I should have finished second after Tom Boonen who was very strong on the day. In Flanders, I thought my tactics were good, but Filippo Pozzato (Lampre) and I didn’t understand each other. He was sure he could win the sprint against Tom Boonen (Omega-Pharma Quickstep) where if he would have attacked like I did, we would have had a Italian victory.


PB: Your win in Flanders 2007 was one of my personal favourites, how confident were you of beating Leif Hoste in the sprint? 
AB: No, I wasn’t sure that I could win the sprint with Hoste, but I knew I was in good condition after winning the Three Days of De Panne the week earlier.

PB: The Flanders parcours is the same as last year with the loops of the Oude Kwaremont and Pattenburg. How do you think this has changed the race? And what circuit do you prefer and why?
AB; The new parcours at Flanders is harder; I prefer it like that. After the final climb, the final fifteen kilometres are on flat straight roads so it is hard to go on a lone break. I miss The Muur being in the final of Flanders, it is part of the history of the race.

PB: Alessandro what has been your most surprising victory?
AB: Becoming World Champion in Varese, because I never thought when I began cycling that I could win the World Championships and have had the privilege of wearing the rainbow jersey for a year.

PB: What in your opinion makes a good Classics rider and was there a classics rider that inspired you when you were younger?
AB: It’s important to have good physical presence, also you need to be in the right place at the right time, perfect position at the important moments of the race and having the ability to cope with the distance. I was always a fan of the riders from Northern Italy; Ballerini, Bartoli, Tafi and Bortolami… all these riders have been inspiration for me.

PB: The whole of the cycling world was shocked by your accident but happy to see you are making good progress. How is your recovery going and do you have any indication on when you will be riding again and more importantly racing.
AB: It’s been more than 45 days now since my accident and I feel much better. The left leg is very good and I have started pedalling on my trainer. I have some tests coming up on my lungs in the next few weeks. I am hoping to ride my road bike again as soon as possible and hopefully I will start racing again in three months.

PB: This year’s Flanders and Roubaix seem like they could be a battle between Tom Boonen (Omega-Pharma Quickstep) and Fabian Cancellara (Radioshack Leopard Trek). Do you see any younger riders that could challenge this pair?
AB: True I agree it could be a battle between Cancellara and Boonen. As regard young riders I feel Taylor Phinney (BMC Racing Team) is the one that can take the fight to them.

PB: And finally your predictions for The Tour of Flanders and for Paris Roubaix. 
AB: My podium for Flanders would be Philippe Gilbert (BMC Racing Team), Tom Boonen (Omega-Pharma Quickstep) and Peter Sagan (Liquigas Cannondale). For Paris Roubaix, I would go for, Phinney (BMC Racing Team), Fabian Cancellara and Filippo Pozzato.

I would like to thank Alessandro for his answers and wish him a speedy recovery. And BMC Racing Team Press Officer Isaura Van Lancker for making the interview possible.

RST Cycle Clothing & Trigon Bikes

Other Results on VeloUK (including reports containing results)

Other News on VeloUK

Tags: , , ,