Franco Ballerini Dies in Rally Accident

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02/7/2010| 0 comments
by AP, with additional commentary by

Franco Ballerini Dies in Rally Accident

Paris-Roubaix winner and coach of four world champions was taking part in amateur rally race near Florence.

Italy cycling coach Franco Ballerini died on Sunday after an accident in a rally car, a hospital spokesperson said.

The 45-year-old, who picked the Italy teams for the Olympics and cycling's annual world championships, was a successful rider himself winning the Paris-Roubaix classic twice.

Mario Cipollini won the world championship in 2002 under Ballerini followed by Paolo Bettini in 2006 and 2007 and Alessandro Ballan in 2008.

Bettini also took gold at the 2004 Athens Olympics road race with Ballerini as his coach.

Seven time Tour de France winner and cancer fighter Lance Armstrong made the following comment about the death of Franco Ballerini. "So sad to hear of passing of Franco Ballerini. Raced many years w/ him. Cool guy and great champ. Leaves behind a wife and 2 kids. RIP, FB"

"It's a tragedy what's happened to Franco Ballerini. I'm sad for that," Tour de France stage winner and Team Katusha rider Robbie McEwen commented earlier.

Ballerini was a fan of rallying and was taking part in an amateur race as a co-driver when his car went off the road in Larciano near Florence.

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