(born November 6, 1979 in Castelfranco Veneto
) is an Italian
professional road bicycle racer
for UCI Professional Continental
team , and is a former world champion. Although he possesses a frame that is usually more associated with climbing, Ballan has established himself as a leading spring classics
contender in recent years. His nickname, Bontempino
, is a diminutive reference to Guido Bontempi
, to whom he bears a resemblance.
Ballan turned professional in 2004 with the Lampre
team. Despite a decent amateur career, Ballan was not sought after by professional teams, and required a little bit of help to secure a professional contract. In his first season, Ballan worked as a domestique
for Romāns Vainšteins
and Gianluca Bortolami
. In 2005, Ballan was given the opportunity to aim for high placings in the spring classics and achieved a stage victory and second overall in the Three Days of De Panne
, along with sixth place in the Ronde van Vlaanderen
, having attacked the leading group with 37 km to go. Later in the season, he achieved his first ProTour victory in taking stage 4 of the Eneco Tour of Benelux
In 2006, Ballan started his spring classics campaign as a highly rated contender, given his performances in 2005 and his success in the warm-up races in winning the Trofeo......