After what has been a fantastic world championship week , yesterday Italys’ Alessandro Ballan the UCI ranked number 10 in the world took home the Rainbow jersey . The win was all the more impressive for the way in which he rode through pain barriers to reach the line .
On the final climb , having been aggressive up to that point , he found himself in the lead group . The tifosi had wanted a fairytale ending to the career of Paolo Bettini who had won the last two world titles and who wanted to achieve the three in a row . However , Bettini missed the decisive move and with three Italians , Cunego , Rebellin and Ballan in the move it was now up to them to satisfy the home crowd . Ballan was driving the group along with the help of Cunego which helped to establish the lead . He also had been attacking a number of times before getting into the group and so when his legs began to cramp on the final climb he had a choice to make – throw the head or suffer like never before to regain contact and try to win the race . He dug very deep and managed to regain contact just after Rebellin had been brought back from an attack . Everyone’s legs were hurting , Ballans even more so , but with this knowledge he tried an attack immediately upon rejoining the group . He was recaptured quickly but that fight and determination was a good indication of things to come .
With three k to go he was once again in the lead group and after both of his team-mates tried to attack and were brought back he drifted to the back of the group and launched himself as if he were in the final 100 metres . The speed at which he passed the rest of the group caused a moments hesitation as riders looked at each other to see who was going to chase . This was enough to open a ten bike length gap which would be hard to close . Then a stall enabled that gap to increase even more and he quickly had a gap of five seconds .
The pain was etched across his face as the chasers began to close with just over one k to go but from somewhere deep inside , with the Tifosi screaming with the volume of a 747 on takeoff , Ballan lifted his pace again and was now safely on his way to victory .
Alessandro Ballan is a fitting World Champion as he rode like a champion to win the title and he will do justice to the rainbow jersey during the 2009 season .
Our boys did not fare quiet as well . Nicholas Roche was unfortunate to crash within the first two hours and was forced to retire shortly afterwards . Roger Aiken did his job in the race by helping Roche after the crash whilst Philip Deignan made an appearance with three laps to go but then got a pain in his belly and had to quit .