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by Shane Stokes
December 8, 2015
Photography by Kristof Ramon
A deadline is looming within the world of cycling, with both a former world champion and the organisers of one of the biggest events in German cycling saying that time is running out for them to remain within the sport.
Alessandro Ballan has been on the sidelines since January of last year. He was handed a ban by the Italian Olympic Committee CONI, which had been examining his role in the Mantova anti-doping investigation.
CONI suspended him for two years for the use or attempted use of banned substances. Ballan denied the charges, saying that he had undergone ozone therapy to treat cytomegalovirus rather than to gain a competitive edge. He admitted to making a mistake, but said his punishment was too harsh.
With his ban set to end next month, he wants to return to the peloton but has been unable to find a team. According to La Gazzetta dello Sport, he had some limited contact with the Southeast squad, but it came to nothing.
“I do not deserve to stop,” he said. “To do another season, or even six months would have been nice and between the other would have had a chance perhaps to better explain the absurd story that I was involved, as well as experience the feelings that I have missed.
“Above all, the regret is to depart not due to my own decision, but that of another.”
Ballan won the world championships in 2008, one year after taking the Tour of Flanders and the Vattenfall Cyclassics.
He has said that if he doesn’t find a squad by December 20, he will retire.
The same cutoff date has been named by the organisers of the Bayern Rundfahrt.
They stated on Monday that the 37th edition would only take place if the budget shortfall of 300,000 was overcome by that point in time.
“We stand in responsibility towards our partners, in particular with respect to the stage towns and the teams that need reliable planning for the coming year,” stated race director Ewald Strohmeier.
“Therefore we have to decide if the race can take place or not. With the planned stage cities, we have agreed that we will carry out as planned the itinerary if there are, by December 20, new options for financing it.
The 2016 edition is due to be held from May 24 to 29.
Meier said that the 2015 event was ‘perfect’, and that if the 2016 race proves impossible to stage, that he and others will look to the following season.
“We will fight in order to continue the Tour of Bavaria from 2017 as a successful and attractive race.”