Alessandro Ballan wants to improve his form in time for the Tour of Flanders. Also, Eeckhout continuPIC © TIM DE WAELE Ballan hoping for improvement Alessandro Ballan, who finished second behind Luca Paolini in stage 1 of the Three Days of De Panne, is hoping that his form will improve in time for Sunday's Tour of Flanders. The Lampre rider had his preparation disturbed after crashing in the GP Chiasso at the start of March. "My back was badly hurt," he told Gazet van Antwerpen. "I couldn't walk for four days and lost valuable time. "I hope that I can gain the last couple of percentage points in the Three Days. Otherwise I'll be in top form just before Paris-Roubaix. Last year I was the only one who could follow Boonen. This time I wasn't bad, but I had to chase the whole time. That's definitely a difference." Eeckhout continues with broken rib Niko Eeckhout (Chocolade Jacques) will keep racing in the Three Days of De Panne, despite breaking a rib in a crash in stage 1. Eeckhout described what happened to Belgian TV: "We were riding on the edge, and when the road narrowed I got stuck in a tractor track. I went over the bars at 60km/h ... I felt something crack and got a thump on my back. I finished the race, because I could feel better on Wednesday." Ullrich's position in Volksbank on hold Jan Ullrich's appointment as team advisor to Volksbank has been put on hold following reports that his blood was among that found with Dr Eufemiano Fuentes last year. "Jan Ullrich hasn't yet take up his duties at Team Volksbank, and will not do so until further notice because of the latest developments," said team manager Thomas Kofler. "As soon as this affair is finally settled, we will determine our next steps." Zabel to lead Milram at Flanders Erik Zabel will captain the Milram team at this Sunday's Tour of Flanders. The German finished fourth in the race in 2000 and 2005, and has a lot of experience in Belgian races. He will be supported by Alessandro Cortinovis, Ralf Grabsch, Brett Lancaster, Volodymyr Dyudya, Alberto Ongarato, Fabio Sacchi and Marcel Sieberg. Sebastian Sielder, Enrico Poitschke, and Nikki Terpstra will act as reserve riders. Bckstedt leads the babies at Settimana Lombarda Sweden's Magnus Bckstedt will captain the Liquigas Team at the Settimana Ciclistica Lombarda, which runs between April 5th and 9th. In addition to Bckstedt, the team will include 27-year old Bergamo climber Alessandro Vanotti, and youngsters Eros Capecchi, Dario Cataldo, Francesco Failli and Roman Kreuziger. Tina Pic and Jen McRae favourites for US Open Championships US sprinters Tina Pic and Jen McRae are among the favourites in the women's race for this Saturday's US Open Cycling Championships in Central Virginia. Pic is a four-time US criterium and National Racing Calendar champion and races for the Colavita/Sutter Home team. McRae, who races for Advil-Chapstick, won the Athens Twilight Criterium last year and is hoping that her team will give her the edge to beat Pic. The women will race for US$10,000 prize money over nine laps of a challenging 3-mile circuit that passes by the Virginia Executive Mansion. The race starts at 9:00am. in Richmond in front of The Library of Virginia, and will finish at about 10:15am. It will be featured on the same-day coverage of the US Open CC on NBC Sports broadcast from 2:30-5:00pm. More information: www.usopencycling.com. Got a comment? Discuss this in the Procycling forum. What else is new? Check out the Procycling blog.