Franco Ballerini 1964-2010

Sad news today that two-time Paris-Roubaix winner Franco Ballerini was killed in a car rally accident.  A man who lived for the cobbles, a true legend of that particular race, and the sport.  R.I.P. Franco.

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More here.

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6 Replies to “Franco Ballerini 1964-2010”

  1. RIP indeed. I don’t think there’s another rider who had a stronger love/hate relationship with the stones of Roubaix than Franco. After a heartbreaking loss to Gilbert Duclos-Lassalle, he swore he would never return to the velodrome. But he did return, and he did win it.

    A sad day for Cycling. Today, a Legend of the Road has passed.

  2. I really admire the few italians like him, Moser, and Tafi who learned to love the cruel cold Belgian races and put their own stamp on them. Beating the Belgians on their home cobbles, that’s not fun or easy. And to die in a rally race, lord knows that is more dangerous for racers and tifosi than cycling. Who will keep the Italians in line for the Worlds now? I see a long drought ahead.

  3. And palmares as a world title and Olympic winning coach of none other than Cipo, Ballan, and Bettini. We were just talking about Italian Hardmen on here the other day. Ballerini was certainly of the ilk.

  4. @john

    Kinda cool too, if Velo News is correct and I assume they are, he became interested in riding the cobbles upon seeing Moser win in the velodrome while watching it on t/v in a Tuscan bar. The quote was something like he didn’t know why, he just got goose bumps and wanted to do the same. The difference between me and Franco? I’ve had that same feeling but never have nor will even ride in the same stratosphere.

  5. @john
    Yeah, the Italians have been notoriously disjointed, and it wasn’t until his leadership brought them together that they could manage anything. I agree, there should be quite a drought on it’s way…

  6. @Marko
    Yeah, along with guys like Michele Bartoli, there really are only a few Italian hardmen in the Belgian vein. A rare bird for sure. Ballan is also the rare Italian who can ride the stones, but he still needs to show if he’s hard or not; I get the idea he’s a bit of a soft-boiled egg.

    As far as the “I don’t know why” quote, that’s great. That’s exactly the bond you need to have with the cobbles, don’t you think? I mean, those among us who say, “You know what? You can also just ride on smooth surfaces” really aren’t the kind that will go far with those races. I think there needs to be a visceral bond on some intangible level to go there.

    Oh, and you have to be out of your fucking mind, too.

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