Team BMC's Alessandro Ballan seriously injured in training ride crash descending Coll de Rates

2008 World Champion suffers multiple fractures, a punctured lung and has emergency surgery to remove spleen after crash on mountain descent

by Tony Farrelly   December 21, 2012  

Alessandro Ballan (copyright Simon MacMichael).jpg

Team BMC rider Alessandro Ballan suffered serious injuries yesterday in a training ride crash while descending the Coll de Rates on the penultimate day of the team's pre-Christmas training camp in Spain.

In statement published on the BMC website the Italian rider suffered fractures to his leg and rib, a punctured lung and most seriously of all an injury to his spleen.

The 2008 World Road Race Champion was coming down the Coll de Rates climb near Parcent toward the end of a four-hour training ride when he crashed at high speed. According to his team, after being taken to a local hospital by BMC Racing Team Dr. Dario Spinelli, Ballan was diagnosed with a mid-shaft, displaced fracture of his left femur, a fracture of his ninth rib and some abdominal trauma. "The broken rib actually made a small puncture in his lung," Dr. Testa said. "The first priority is the spleen injury – that is considered a medical emergency." Ballan was undergoing surgery to remove his spleen Thursday night and a decision on when and where his broken leg can be operated on will come at a later time, Dr. Testa said.

After visiting Ballan in hospital BMC Racing Team Directeur Sportif John Lelangue said:

"Of course his loss means a lot since Alessandro is one of our key riders for the classics," Lelangue said. "But most important right now is that he can recover and just get back to his normal process. We'll wait for all the medical information before even beginning to think about what could be his plan for coming back."

Given the extent of injuries it is highly unlikely that Ballan will be back in action before next summer a blow not only for the rider but also for his team. The Italian was BMC's most consistent rider in the 2012 Spring Classics finishing 3rd at Paris Roubaix and the Tour of Flanders - a race he won in 2007 and in the top 10 at Milan San Remo.

17 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

Terrible news.

Hope he has a smooth recovery.

Get well soon Alessandro.

posted by Super Domestique [1682 posts]
21st December 2012 - 14:12


Awful set of injuries - going to be a stressful Christmas for Alessandro, his family and the team.

Best wishes to him and his team.

Strax's picture

posted by jdstrachan@yaho... [53 posts]
21st December 2012 - 15:13


Ouch, really not good.

Off to the in-law's apartment in Javea next summer and am planning on riding that one. Caution noted...

andyspaceman's picture

posted by andyspaceman [242 posts]
21st December 2012 - 18:23


Know the road very well, coming off is easily done especially if it is wet, its fast and narrow with a big drop on one side and sharp rocks on the other and the odd hairpin bend.


posted by Rupert49 [39 posts]
21st December 2012 - 18:30


Get well soon, Alessandro.

Losing a spleen is nasty; he'll likely need a full set of vaccinations, and his team doctors will want him off the bike and onto antibiotics at the first sign of trouble - even for a cough or tickly sore throat. (At least, that's what I'd advise - sadly there's no such thing as a titanium spleen)...

PJ McNally's picture

posted by PJ McNally [595 posts]
21st December 2012 - 19:21


Best wishes for a full recovery.

There are no stupid questions, just stupid people.

posted by stumps [3114 posts]
21st December 2012 - 23:24


hope you recover soon alesandro, poor guy

posted by Karbon Kev [682 posts]
22nd December 2012 - 8:03


Where was the airbag?

Charlie Horse

posted by ch [130 posts]
22nd December 2012 - 8:11


Sincere best wishes for a Speedy Recovery to " Al " , as i call him , when we met so often last year .

Always had a cheeky grin and treats ALL Tifosi as if they are part of the family .

When i first heard of the accident , i was under the impression that a vehicle was involved ? Guess " shit Happens " even to the best ?

What a disappointing way to spend the festive season , bed ridden and in pain ? Losing the Spleen must have some impact on his future health and thus his career .

Can remember riding with him , last April at Arco , after he had crossed the finish line , i didn't know that he was awaiting the result , for him it was , " just another race ", asked him how he went and got a shrug! He was the Winner !

Skippy(advocate for "Disabled / Para Sport")@skippydetour. blogging as skippi-cyclist.blogspot & Parrabuddy.blogspot currently on the road with ProTour Grand Tour Events .

skippy's picture

posted by skippy [405 posts]
22nd December 2012 - 10:29


Oh man what a way to spend christmas hope he gets better soon.

posted by mandy [94 posts]
22nd December 2012 - 13:27


What does the spleen do anyway? They were always whipping them out on ER. Isn't that taking being a weight weenie too far?

No, seriously, sounds rubbish, get better soon.

I am stronger than Mensa, Miller and Mailer, I spat out Plath and Pinter.

bikeboy76's picture

posted by bikeboy76 [1676 posts]
22nd December 2012 - 13:42


Your spleen protects you from infection.

Mind was damaged but not ruptured in accident, have great scar were they checked the status of the spleen and was ready to remove it, but left it in.

Next couple of years, had colds that developed in pneumonia as my spleen recovered. Now perfectly health and no more problems with pneumonia

posted by nickobec [261 posts]
22nd December 2012 - 13:53


bad luck

hope hes good as soon as possible, decending is so risky. easy to forget where the limits are

posted by russyparkin [578 posts]
22nd December 2012 - 16:50


Get well soon.

Wishing you a speedy recovery

Chris D

posted by wingsofspeed68 [58 posts]
22nd December 2012 - 22:44


here's to a speedy recovery.

In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice, but in practice...

posted by notfastenough [3683 posts]
22nd December 2012 - 22:54


An update I saw lastnight, Its looking like he's going to lose a Kidney aswell and is still in a medically induced coma.... Crying


Gkam84's picture

posted by Gkam84 [9291 posts]
23rd December 2012 - 14:43


Latest update

Ballan successfully had double femur fracture surgery. Did not lose a kidney and is conscious

Gkam84's picture

posted by Gkam84 [9291 posts]
23rd December 2012 - 15:14