Pozzato convinced he can win Flanders or Roubaix this season
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Friday, February 05, 2010

Pozzato convinced he can win Flanders or Roubaix

by Conal Andrews at 7:36 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Spring Classics
 

Italian champion Filippo Pozzato was one of the strongest riders in last year’s first spring Classics, performing well in both the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix, but not managing to win.

The 28 year old Katusha rider was second in Roubaix and fifth in Flanders, and is determined to top the podium in at least one of those this season.

“Winning Flanders remains a dream for me, as does Paris-Roubaix,” he told the Gazet Van Antwerpen. “These two races are monuments and both fit me like a glove. If I must choose, I’d go for the Tour of Flanders, because that race is ridden first. Then I would start Paris-Roubaix one week later with a calmer mind.”

Pozzato gave the impression last year of a rider who was certainly strong enough to win Flanders, but he never took the bit between his teeth. Instead of concentrating on his own race and throwing down the gauntlet, he shadowed Tom Boonen. The latter’s team-mate Stijn Devolder broke clear and was able to solo to victory, while behind Pozzato waited until it was far too late. He had to make do with fifth.

The following week, he once again followed Boonen in Paris-Roubaix, but was delayed slightly by the crash of breakaway companions Juan Antonio Flecha (Rabobank) and Leif Hoste (Silence-Lotto). Boonen seized the moment and accelerated hard, and while Pozzato closed to within ten seconds, the gap went out to 47 seconds by the finish.

Providing he can show more initiative and aggression this year, he stands a chance. “He is not unbeatable,” he says of Boonen, who will be going for his third win in Flanders and fourth in Roubaix.

“I do not know if I can be stronger [than 2009], but the team is better equipped for the Classics. That can make the difference.”

Curiously, Pozzato appears to be uncertain about Philippe Gilbert’s prospects. The Belgian had a stunning end of season in 2009, scooping four consecutive victories - the Coppa Sabatini, Paris-Tours, the Tour of Piemonte and the Tour of Lombardy, and is regarded as a likely contender for all of the spring Classics.

However his Italian rival doesn’t appear to take him too seriously. “He is a good cyclist, but I do not know if he has sufficient experience for Flanders,” he said. “I’d see him winning Milan-Sanremo sooner.”

Pozzato has travelled to Doha and will line out in the Tour of Qatar on Sunday. Like Boonen, he will use the race to hone his form and also to work on team tactics; after that, he will return to Europe and put the finishing touches to his preparation for the Classics.

He plans to hit top form in April, and once again in the Autumn. “I will aim for two peaks this year: one in the spring, and the other in the period of the world championships,” he said. “The Italian coach Ballerini told me that the course in Australia suits me perfectly.”

Being fresher is also something he aims for. “Last year I did 100 races, it will be 80 this year. That seems enough.”

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