World champ Ballan signing with BMC Racing?

By Gregor Brown, Cyclingnews.com | Monday, August 31, 2009 3.13pm

World road champion Alessandro Ballan will ride for USA's BMC Racing Team in 2010, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport.

He leaves top division Lampre after six years.

"I want to go abroad to learn English and see a new world," Ballan told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

Italy's Ballan, 29, became professional with Giuseppe Saronni's Italy-based Lampre team in 2004.

"I will not stay with Saronni because I want to better myself. It has been good in this team, very good, and I still have some big goals: repeating Worlds and Lombardia. But to stay another two years would be too much."

Ballan said he still has to decide where he will ride in 2010 and will wait for the right day to announce it. The UCI prohibits teams and riders negotiating prior to September 1, tomorrow.

"Tomorrow I will know more about my future," Ballan told Cyclingnews. "At the moment I have not signed with anyone."

BMC is a second division team, or Professional Continental, based in Santa Rosa, California. The team came about in 2008 from the ashes of team Phonak, with John Lelangue continuing as director sportif.

It has to rely on wild card invitations to the top races since it is not a top division, or ProTour team. This year the team raced the Dauphiné Libéré and one-day Classic Paris-Roubaix, one of Ballan's career goals.

"It's true that BMC is not a ProTour team and has to have invites. But Cervélo showed how it is done this year," he told La Gazzetta dello Sport. "You need to have good riders and the invitations will arrive. BMC also has [George] Hincapie, [Marcus] Burghardt and [Karsten] Kroon, no?"

BMC's signings are unconfirmed, but it is also interested in Steve Morabito and Michael Schär, according to a Cyclingnews source.

Ballan established himself as a one-day rider with wins in the 2005 Trofeo Laigueglia and 2007 Ronde van Vlaanderen. Last year he finished fourth in Ronde, third in Paris-Roubaix and won the World Championships.

A virus forced him to miss much of the early season this year. He won a stage and the overall at the Tour de Pologne earlier this month. It was his first race in the World Champion rainbow jersey.

Ballan started the three-week Vuelta a España stage race on Saturday. He is using the race as preparation for the World title defence, September 27.

Cunego re-signs with Lampre

Italian Damiano Cunego renewed his contract with Lampre-NGC yesterday for the 2010 season. Team Manager Giuseppe Saronni said Cunego will continue the contract he started with the team in 2005, according to RCD.

Lampre teammates damiano cunego (l) and alessandro ballan finished second and first in the 2008 world road race championship.:

Cunego finished second at the World Championships, won Amstel Gold and his third Giro di Lombardia last year. He won the 2004 Giro d'Italia and the young rider classification at the 2006 Tour de France.

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This season, he won two stages and the overall of Coppe & Bartali and finished in the top ten of all three Ardennes Classics. He is currently racing the Vuelta a España and preparing to lead the Italian team at the Worlds.

Cunego, 27, turned professional in 2002 and joined Lampre in 2005.

Lampre-NGC also signed Under 23 time trail World Champion, Adriano Malori, Alfredo Balloni, Enrico Magazzini and Diego Ulissi.

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