Eventual winner, Franco Ballerini leading the charge
over the pavé.
One of my favorite toughmen of the pavé has to go to the Italian Franco Ballerini. He died tragically last February but his memory is firmly etched into all cycling fans as an heroic two time winner of Paris-Roubaix.
Winner twice (1995 & 1998) and podium twice (1993 & 1994). He was tantalizingly close to winning in 1993 when the race turned into a final sprint in the Velodrome against the veteran Gilbert Duclos-Lasalle. He lost by centimeters and threatened not to return. Youthful emotion? Thankfully he changed his mind and decided to return to his beloved cobbles for more punishment .... and glory.
There's a French blog called, 'Le blog de l'Ardoisier' that's worth to check out. It's here that I found out that Paris-Roubaix organisers will have a special award called, 'Pavé Franco Ballerini' to present to the highest placed Italian rider at this Sunday's race.
Can Alessandro Ballan be the first?
A worthy hommage to the great rider!