Franco Ballerini Heroes of Paris – Roubaix
Franco Ballerini (11 December 1964 – 7 February 2010) was an Italian road racing cyclist. Born in Florence, his greatest exploits as a rider came with his two victories in the cycling classic Paris-Roubaix, riding for the Mapei cycling team. In 1993 he was beaten on the line by Gilbert Duclos-Lassalle in an exciting Paris-Roubaix finale. Also on his palmarès or list of accomplishments there are other one-day races such as Omloop Het Volk and Paris-Brussels. Ballerini then became manager of the Italian national cycling squad, winning the 2002 World Championships with Mario Cipollini and the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens with ex-teammate Paolo Bettini. In 2006, 2007 and 2008 he won the World Championships with Paolo Bettini and Alessandro Ballan.
On 7 February 2010, Ballerini, a rallying fan, was seriously injured during a race in Larciano where he was participating as co-driver/navigator for professional driver Alessandro Ciardi. He later died of his injuries at the Pistoia city hospital. He was 45 years old.