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Legends of Roubaix: Franco Ballerini
© Bettini photo
Hailing from the Tuscan city of Florence, Franco Ballerini was one of Italy’s premier Classics specialists in the 1990s alongside Andrea Tafi and Michele Bartoli. His ability riding the cobbled and windswept roads of northern France and Belgium brought him a Paris-Brussels victory in 1990.
Then, in 1993, riding for the GB-MG Maglificio team, coached by Roger De Vlaeminck, Ballerini rode a close-fought Paris-Roubaix where he lost out to the more experienced Gilbert Duclos-Lassalle by a fraction of a wheel in a velodrome sprint. Although afterwards Ballerini threatened not to ride the race again, he returned to the cobbles and, riding for Mapei, won in both 1995 and 1998. In his last major race, the 2001 edition of Paris-Roubaix, Ballerini was given a standing ovation in the Roubaix velodrome and unzipped his jersey to reveal a t-shirt saying 'Merci Roubaix'. He loved the race and was a true Monsieur Roubaix.
Ballerini went on to coach some great Italos such as Cipollini, Paulo Bettini and Allesandro Ballan, as head of the Italian national squad or Squadra Azzuri. Tragically, Ballerini died as a result of injuries from a car rally crash in 2010. A legendary rider and one of the finest to grace the cobbles of Paris-Roubaix.
- RT @IonaNiDhalaigh: Yahhh mountain jersey in the bag!!! Nice one @mike_cuming!!! @raphacondor http://t.co/GrGqSL0Kgl
- RT @CondorWarehouse: Nice to see the @raphacondor JLT team bike on display @campagnolosrl HQ with so many top pro teams http://t.co/5CgE0tY…
- RT @anpostras: GC after Stage 4: Bialoblocki,, McConvey, Guldhammer, Handley, Pelletier-Roy, Hunal, Simon Yates, Fodor, Roger Aiken, Archbo…
- Spare a thought for @Porterelliott who punctured out of the yellow jersey group, when will he get some luck!
- Took the @anpostras on today. Didn't quite pull it off. @RichHandley90 4th on GC and @mike_cuming in the KoM jersey.
- Tour series update from Stoke up on the site http://t.co/aVdcnGnkOX
- RT @elstopbanana: Here's Kristian House @raphacondor at last night's @TourSeries picture by Sue Howlett Great racing! @SoTCityCouncil http:…
- RT @sticky_bottle: Meant to say, to be eligible for the @raphacondor team car compeition you have to be a stickybottle twitter follower!
- RT @sticky_bottle: OK folks; nice morning for it. To win a day in the Rapha Condor JLT team car on the Rás last stage, Sunday, just retweet…
- Third team overall for the Men in Black at Stoke last night in the @TourSeries