For the first time since 1989 Franco Ballerini will go to the Hell of the North as as spectator and guest of the Societи du Tour de France.
“That first year in Belgium I did nothing good. I was always in the wrong place at the wrong time. But at Roubaix I got a strange feeling… I liked that race”. He was 25 years old, in his 3rd pro season.
“The young rider can gian great experience riding it for the first time. I remember last year, at a forum after a stage at the Giro d’Italia. There was a young rider of Team Colpack named Bulgarelli. To the question – do you like the races in the North?- he replied which he tried, but he thought he wasn’t the right rider for those races. And that’s wrong. The first year is hard for everybody, and it’s wrong to become discouraged. Also if you lose time, you must listen to yourself and try to understand if you can become faster. Just like Armstrong at San Sebastian. He arrived last, but he understood hat race was for him. And he came back and won it”.
At the races of the North it’s forbidden to talk and be distracted at any point in the race. “To do well, you must be attentive from the start. Every race is about 6 hours. You cannot think to do the race only in the final. Also at the Liege, also if there isn’t the pavи, you must run ahead, with the eyes opened. You must stay shoulder to shoulder, handlebars against handlebars. The biggest problem isn’t the hard work, but the stress. I recovered from Roubaix faster in the physically way than in a mental way”.
The Italian team manager of the national team advises riding the races in the North, to gain experience.
“Before you go there, and before you earn experience. I rider need some years for tidy up the bike. It’s really difficult win at the first time a Flanders or a Roubaix. And it often happens that there is an old fox of 33-36 years old who beats the young man with his experience.
My point of references were Kelly and Van der Poel. Kelly was fast everywhere. Van der Poel was fast, but also really clever to catch the right rear wheel. Stay behind him it was to stay in the right draft. That’s important for a young rider, follow a big rider ftoor be in the right place at the right moment.
“Ballero” was really clever about how to ride on the pavи.
“The important thing is have the right cadence of pedalling, wih speed and agility. The pavи encourage using a big gear, but then it’s difficult to respond to the action. For this you must have an high speed”.
Another important rule is eat every 40 minutes. It seems stupid, and yet…
“It can happen what’s happened to Museeuw in 1994, he “died” at 30 metres to Tchmil, because of hunger. And he was Museeuw, not a first timer. But why did it happen? Because the concentration was at max, and he forgot to eat something. A Big mistake”.
Ballerini advises also to always finish the races. The number 1 rule.
“Because even if you only arrive at the finish you can learn the course, for the next time. You will store the little house, the road sign, the cote…Sometimes I didn’t know the name of the road, but I knew if the road turned left or right. That’s why it’s important finish the races, so you can do better on the courses”.
– Source: Bicisport