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Former world champion will make season’s debut at GP Kanton Aargau-Gippingen

Alessandro Ballan will race for his BMC Racing Team for the first time this season on Thursday in the GP Kanton Aargau-Gippingen. The former world road champion makes his return to action in the one-day Swiss race nearly six months after a bad crash during training.

The Italian rider broke his left leg in two places and fractured a rib in a crash during BMC’s training camp in Spain on 20 December. He needed surgery to remove his spleen and later his appendix.

"I feel like a child who has been waiting for a toy for a long time," Ballan said. "I feel good and have been living and training at altitude for 12 days, so my sensations are good. But I don't know how I will do in the races because of the changes of pace. My goal is simply to finish. I also want to thank all the people who have been close to me in this period, particularly my family, my friends and the team."

Ballan, 33, won the World Road Race Championships in 2008 and he usually targets the Spring Classics. He’s a former Tour of Flanders winner with three Paris-Roubaix podium finishes to his name.

BMC Racing Team Assistant Director Max Sciandri said, "It will be great to have him there and we have a team that can really do something. Greg Van Avermaet is riding well and hopefully some of the guys who did the Giro d'Italia are coming out of it in good condition."

Mat has worked for loads of bike magazines over the past 20 years, and been editor of 220 Triathlon and Cycling Plus. He's been road.cc technical editor for seven years, testing bikes, fettling the latest kit, and trying out the most up-to-the-minute clothing. We send him off around the world to get all the news from launches and shows too. He has won his category in Ironman UK 70.3 and finished on the podium in both marathons he has run. Mat is a youthful 45-year-old Cambridge graduate who did a post-grad in magazine journalism, and he is a past winner of the Cycling Media Award for Specialist Online Writer.