Pozzato disappointed to lose, but pleased to ride strongly once again
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Sunday, April 01, 2012

Pozzato disappointed to lose, but pleased to ride strongly once again

by VeloNation Press at 5:56 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics, Tour of Flanders
 
Did Italian make a tactical error in the Ronde Van Vlaanderen finale?

Filippo PozzatoDisappointed not to succeed in his goal of winning the Ronde Van Vlaanderen, Filippo Pozzato has chosen to focus on the positive and says that he comes away from the race with more plusses than minuses.

The Italian was arguably the strongest rider in the race, but made a mistake in going head to head with Boonen rather than playing a different card. He, the Belgian and Alessandro Ballan (BMC Racing Team) pushed ahead on the final ascent of the Oude Kwaremont climb, and from that point on the others in the field were racing for fourth place.

“After Cancellara’s crash, it was clear to all that the race would be changed,” he said, adding that he hopes the Swiss rider recovers soon from his fractured collarbone. “On the Kwaremont we forced [the pace] to see who would remain and then myself and Gatto stayed in front. Then in the final part I felt good and in the last time up the Kwaremont I closed on Ballan. Only Tom was able to follow me.

“On the Paterberg I forced the pace but Tom was strong and really very careful.” Boonen was gapped very slightly going over the top, but joined up again immediately after the summit. The trio then raced on towards the finish, where the final battle played out.

Ballan attacked three times in the final three kilometres. On each occasion, Pozzato forced Boonen to chase but, instead of countering, he waited for the sprint.

His tactic was to hope that Boonen tired himself out in covering Ballan’s moves but, given the Belgian has won Tour de France bunch sprints, it would probably have been more astute to have jumped clear after Ballan’s final surge.

Pozzato concedes now that it would have been very difficult to win in a straight up gallop, no matter what. “Even if I was quicker, it would have been the same,” he said. “Tom started strong and he remained in front, even when I moved out from behind his wheel.”

He feels some regret, but also recognizes the plusses. "I'm sorry because I would have preferred to win, since only those who are first are remembered,” he reasoned. “But I'm happy because I felt good and strong, and for this I demonstrated to all where am I and where I can finish.”

Pozzato has had a couple of difficult and disappointing seasons, but today he showed two things. Firstly, that he is back to his best, physically. And, secondly, that he has cast off what appeared to be negative riding in the past, a preoccupation with marking others and with conserving his strength until it was too late.

The Italian rode like a winner today, even if things didn’t quite finish out that way.

He can now aim with confidence at next weekend’s Paris-Roubaix. There will be other strong rivals of course, Boonen included, but he has the condition to fight with each of them on level terms.

Except perhaps the sprint, when it comes to today’s victor. If the two are part of a winning move next week, expect the Italian to try a different tactic rather than waiting until the Roubaix velodrome.

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