Interview: Pozzato takes confidence from Sanremo, is ambitious for Classics ahead
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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Interview: Pozzato takes confidence from Sanremo, is ambitious for Classics ahead

by Shane Stokes at 1:42 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Interviews, Spring Classics
 
Farnese Vini Selle Italia rider speaks about fresh outlook and new team

Filippo PozzatoTaking confidence from a good sixth place finish in Milan Sanremo, a result that came despite breaking his collarbone just over a month before, Filippo Pozzato has spoken with optimism about the Classics to come.

The Italian rider is trying to get back to his best after a couple of difficult seasons and, after moving from the WorldTour Katusha team to the Pro Continental Farnese Vini Selle Italia outfit, he believes that he’s in the right place to succeed.

“This result [from Saturday’s race – ed.] it's really important, because gave me the certainty that I worked well and I can do the next month in a good way. I am sure that I can still progress,” he told VeloNation today.

Pozzato is due to compete tomorrow in the GP Waregem, the E3 Harelbeke on Friday and then Gent - Wevelgem on Sunday. After that, he’ll go on to the Ronde van Vlaanderen and Paris-Roubaix, both races he has tried to win in recent years, and two very serious targets for him.

“Right now, I’m thinking only of winning, so from tomorrow, all the races are good,” he said. “Of course, I'm looking at the Tour of Flanders and Paris - Roubaix with special attention.”

He knows there’s many he must watch, and beat. “The rivals are always the same, with some new young ones such as [Omloop Het Nieuwsblad winner Sep] Vanmarcke,” he said. “As regards the rest, Cancellara is superior at this moment, together with Boonen. He demonstrated he is ready, even if he could have started [his season] too soon.”

In recent years Pozzato was criticized by a number of people in the sport. His talent was recognized but he was also accused him of squandering opportunities by racing too conservatively, and of shadowing others. He’s taken big results in the past such as victories in the 2003 Tirreno-Adriatico, 2006 Milan-Sanremo, 2007 Omloop Het Volk and 2009 E3 Prijs Vlaanderen, as well as two stages in the Tour de France and one in the Giro d’Italia, but in 2010 and 2011 he was much quieter.

That led to frustration on the part of his former team Katusha, and also from others. Many could see his talent, and felt that he wasn’t making the most of it.

However, for his part, he maintains that he has worked hard. He says the drop off in results is due to setbacks; last year, he broke bones in a crash at the Tour of Belgium, then in August he needed to get stitches after falling down the stairs and banging his head.

“I haven't changed my approach this season, because I'm sure that I also worked well in recent years,” he insists. “It’s important to note that I had many personal problems [including a relationship breakup – ed.], and last year I was really unlucky with another incident.

“Anyway, this year I'm working with Scinto [Farnese Vini manager Luca Scinto – ed.], because I trust in him. I'm working to do all the things that a rider should do. In recent years I have done everything with the same professionalism, but I hadn't the motivation and the hunger that I have now.”

Time to get back on track:

‘Pippo’ is now 31 years of age and knows that he’s got a limited amount of time to really get the best out of himself. His career could continue for another five years or more, of course, but in terms of physiology the time to deliver is probably this year and next.

After that, it’s likely that age will begin to blunt his speed.

That need for urgency and focus is likely one reason why he battled hard to come back quickly after breaking his collarbone in the Tour of Qatar. He fell on February 9th, had surgery three days later, returned to racing six days after that in the Trofeo Laigueglia in Italy, then went on to ride Tirreno-Adriatico to build his form for Sanremo.

“I thought immediately about the operation, then to return quickly to the bicycle,” he said of his frame of mind after the crash. “The first race was hard and difficult, but I was lucky enough not to feel too much pain and, above all, to avoid any new falls.”

That apparent renewed focus has coincided with his move to Farnese Vini Selle Italia. He appears more settled in his current team, which has publically stated that its goal is to give him the right conditions to help him succeed.

“The relationship between the guys, the staff and management is more simple,” he said, speaking of the difference between this team and others he has been with. “There is a focus on me and the other leaders, and it's a team which works on personal relationships. Besides, it's Italian, and for this reason it is easier to have a fun atmosphere.”

Of course, fun is not the number one priority for a top level squad, but it sounds like he’s more content with the structure and balance of the team.

The next few weeks will show if that change is the key to delivering the kind of results he has done in the past, and if he’ll be able to exploit his full potential in the future.
 

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