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The finish line photo confirms Alessandro Ballan's seventh place in the opening stage.
The finish line photo confirms Alessandro Ballan's seventh place in the opening stage.

Santos Tour Down Under, Stage 1: Ballan Seventh In Sprint

18. January 2011

Angaston, Australia

Alessandro Ballan finished seventh for the BMC Racing Team Tuesday in the bunch sprint finish on the opening stage of the Santos Tour Down Under.

Ballan Confident

A five-man breakaway that had been away nearly the entire race was brought back inside the final 10 kilometers of the 138 km race. Ballan, the 2008 world road champion, said he was confident of his form after some good training sessions in Spain and Australia the past few weeks. "After our first passage through the finish line, I thought this finish could be good for me," Ballan said. "But the last kilometer, I was in the back and had to spend a lot of energy to come back with my teammates doing a very good job of helping me. For the next stages, I hope I will be at the front at the end because from the profile of those stages, they're quite good for me."

A Fast Start
BMC Racing Team Assistant Director Sportif Michael Sayers said Ballan's top 10 finish in a field that features some of the world's top sprinters did not come as a surprise. "With Ballan, you always expect good results," Sayers said. "He's probably the classiest rider in the field. Obviously, they don't give the rainbow stripes out for free. This is a good kickoff to the season." Matthew Goss (HTC-High Road) took the win. "The race was generally pretty fast the whole day because teams were chasing and keeping the break in check," Sayers said. "The sun was out and it's warm so I'm sure that had an effect on some riders."