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With Damiano Cunego giving the Tour de France a skip to prepare for the world championships, Lampre-NGC will instead focus on trying to win stages and leave the fight for the GC to the other teams.
The Italian team brings a nine-man squad full of stage-hunters, with the lone exception of veteran Marzio Bruseghin, who will do what he can to try to finish among the top 10 overall.
The improving condition of reigning world champion Alessandro Ballan, who missed the spring classics with poor health, gives Lampre a shot to fight for a stage in the breakaways and transition stages.
Angelo Furlan and Mirco Lorenzetto will be the team’s cards in the mass sprints while Marco Marzano, Massimiliano Mori and Daniel Righi will also be looking to sneak into breakaways.
“Our hope is that Ballan will be back at his best. We have a few cards to play in the sprints, but our main goal will be to get into the breakaways,” said Lampre sport director Fabrizio Bontempi. “We think our best chance will be to win a sprint out of smaller groups than out of the bunch.”
World champ Ballan has been struggling with a type of glandular fever called cytomegalovirus all season and things got so bad he was forced to stop racing at Tirreno-Adriatico to give his body a complete resting period to recovery.
He quietly returned to competition last week at the Tour de Suisse, finishing an unspectacular 94th overall.
At the Tour, Ballan will be trying to become the first reigning world champion since Oscar Freire in 2001 to win a Tour stage, though his major goals come later this season.
“Bruseghin will be our leader for the GC and I hope to be at his service,” Ballan said. “I hope that I can get into a breakaway and try to win a stage. I will race the Vuelta as well to prepare for the world championships. I dream of winning the world’s again.”
Lampre for Tour de France
- Marzio Bruseghin, (I)
- Alessandro Ballan, (I)
- Simon Spilak, (I)
- Angelo Furlan, (I)
- Mirco Lorenzetto, (I)
- Marco Marzano, (I)
- Massimiliano Mori, (I)
- Daniel Righi, (I)
- Marco Bandiera, (I)