Cycling - Ballan out of intensive care after surgery

Former world road race champion Alessandro Ballan is out of intensive care as he continues to recover from surgery following a high-speed crash in training last week, his BMC team said on Friday.

The Italian, being treated in Spain, remains in hospital after he underwent surgery over a week ago to repair his broken left leg and remove his spleen. The 33-year-old also broke a rib in the accident between Valencia and Alicante.

"Every day I am getting better. Now it's easy," 2008 world champion Ballan said in a statement from his hospital bed.

"I am very happy because I have a lot of supporters, not only in Italy, but around the world. A lot of people are thinking of me in this moment and I am very happy and appreciative of all of them."

BMC chief medical officer Max Testa said no release date has yet been established for Ballan, who had been due to ride at the Tour Down Under in Australia from Jan. 20-27 and has been replaced by Ivan Santaromita.

"The doctors who are overseeing his care at the hospital saw enough improvement that he's been moved to a regular care room. There have been no complications from the surgeries," said Testa.