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Alessandro Ballan was the BMC Racing Team's best finisher Saturday. (©Sirotti.)
Alessandro Ballan was the BMC Racing Team's best finisher Saturday. (©Sirotti.)

Ballan Eighth At Milan-San Remo

17. March 2012

Alessandro Ballan finished eighth for the BMC Racing Team Saturday at Milan-San Remo while teammates Greg Van Avermaet and Philippe Gilbert had their hopes dashed by crashes during the 298-kilometer race.

Van Avermaet Injures Ribs
Ballan and Van Avermaet were in a small group chasing the leading trio when a rider crashed in the final curve. Van Avermaet said he hit a rock wall while going down. "My left side is not feeling too great but I can still move," Van Avermaet said. "I'll get X-rays and hopefully it will be OK. It is just too bad that there's 300 kilometers between Milan and San Remo and then you have a crash just before the finish line." Ballan said he was leading out Van Avermaet and only narrowly avoided the crash. "The rider from Omega Pharma-Quick Step touched me and went down but I was just ahead of it," he said. "I think it was possible for Greg to be in the top five had he not crashed." Simon Gerrans (GreenEDGE Cycling Team) took the win ahead of breakaway companions Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Nissan) and Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale). It was Ballan's third top 10 finish at Milan-San Remo. "I tried to sprint, but just didn't have the legs," he said.

Frustrating Crash
Gilbert said his crash, near the top of the penultimate climb of the Cipressa, did not injure him but ruined an otherwise good day. "I was feeling good, but I had bad luck with the crash," he said. "A rider from FDJ-BigMat made a move and he crashed and involved some other riders, including me. That's part of the game." Up to that point, everything was going according to plan, said BMC Racing Team Directeur Sportif John Lelangue. An early breakaway of nine riders that gained a more than 13-minute advantage was not a threat, he said. "Once we got to Le Mànie (100 km to go), we put the whole team on the front, accelerating in the last kilometer and then going easy on the downhill in the front before riding hard for five kilometers on the seaside." From there, Lelangue sent word via Gilbert to reduce the team's workload and wait for the final two climbs. "We made the selection we had to make today," Lelangue said. "Unfortunately, crashes are part of the sport." George Hincapie, who helped teammates Michael Schär, Taylor Phinney, Manuel Quinziato and Marcus Burghardt drive the pace at key moments, also went down in a crash with 40 km to go but was not seriously hurt.