World Champion confirms Lampre departure

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.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.