Monday, February 8, 2010

One of My First Heroes

Franco Ballerini, one of my first "heroes" of road cycling was tragically killed in a auto rally accident.

I had just started being interested in road cycling in 1997 when I started Cycle Therapy and my neighbor gave me the Fun Machine. That was the year Ullrich won the tour, and I had yet to learn of the world of Pharmaceutical enhanced athletics. Cycling videos were beautifully edited and cued to the soundtrack of soft porn. Images of exotic and artfully rendered frames made of metal (the few carbon ones still were lugged, and at least had killer paint jobs) being raced across the ancient roads and paths came to me in through the mail.
1998 Ballerini won Paris Roubaix for the second time. Every year Velonews would do a feature on the technology of P/R. Franco won it on conventional 3x wheels. Like I build.
He was becoming one of the elder statesmen of the peloton at the time. Another thing that endeared me to him; anyone who excels who is older than me = hero.
His palmares were impressive.
When his days racing ended he successfully transitioned to the position of Italian National coach where his racers have scored gold in I believe 4 editions under his tutelage.
A true hardman.
He will be missed.

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