Italian national director and former Paris-Roubaix winner Franco Ballerini, 45, died in Larciano, Italy, this morning due to injuries suffered in a rally car race.

 

Ballerini co-piloted a rally car driven by Italian Alessandro Ciardi when they went off course and crashed around 8:30.  According to La Gazzetta dello Sport, both were taken to a hospital near Pistoia, but Ballerini died despite the help of medics.

 

As a national director, Ballerini guided Italy to five wins since taking the post in 2001: The World Championships in 2002, 2006 – 2008, and the 2004 Olympic road race.  He raced professional for 16 years, winning the one-day Paris-Roubaix classic in 1995 and 1998.

 franco ballerini

Franco Ballerini riding to victory in Paris Roubaix