Italian sports daily La Gazzetta dello Sport has reported that World Road Race Champion Alessandro Ballan, who won his title last year in Varese, is poised to leave Lampre–NGC after six years for BMC Racing, the California-based team formed in 2008 from the remains of the Phonak outfit.
If true, it would represent a something of a gamble for Ballan, since BMC currently races on the UCI America Continental professional tour, one level below the ProTour ranks, although the team will be aiming to secure wildcard entries to some top-flight events in 2010.
Ballan confirmed that he had decided to leave Lampre–NGC, although under UCI rules he cannot confirm his destination until after 1 September, telling the Gazzetta only “I want to better myself, to go abroad to learn English and see new worlds”. However, the newspaper expects his signing to be confirmed tomorrow.
Damiano Cunego, meanwhile, will be joined at Lampre–NGC by sprinter Alessandro Petacchi, who joins from LPR Brakes–Farnese Vini with a two-year contract.
The Gazzetta also reports that BMC, whose directeur sportif is John Lelangue, who headed the Tour de France’s press office for ten years, is set to announce several other signings.
Names in the frame are said to include the veteran George Hincapie, who won the US Professional National Road Race Championship yeserday, and Germany’s Marcus Berhardt, both of Columbia-HTC, as well as Team Saxo Bank’s Dutch rider, Karsten Kroon.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.