World Championships: Gilbert and Pozzato play at passing the pressure buck
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Monday, September 27, 2010

World Championships: Gilbert and Pozzato play at passing the pressure buck

by Ben Atkins at 12:19 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, World Championships
 
Monaco neighbours insist that the other is favourite for the rainbow jersey

philippe gilbertGood friends off the bike, Belgian Philippe Gilbert and Italian Filippo Pozzato are engaging in a little light-hearted mind game to deflect pressure towards each other in the run up to next weekend’s World Championship race. The two Monaco residents are using the media to pass the mantle of favourite backwards and forwards, according to Gilbert in Het Laatste Nieuws.

Pozzato won Sunday’s Herald Sun World Cycling Classic in Ballarat, just outside Melbourne, but announced to the press afterwards that: “Philippe Gilbert is ‘favorito numero uno’. This means that Belgium has to take the full weight of the race on its shoulders.”

Gilbert is undoubtedly one of, if not the, outstanding favourite for Sunday’s race as currently one the outstanding one-day racers in the world. This season he has not taken many victories, but those he has taken have been of high quality, including the Amstel Gold Race and two stages of the Vuelta a España; all of these featured hilly courses and complicated or uphill finishes.

He had elected to sit out the Ballarat race though, worried that the mixed quality of the field could cause accidents.

“The ‘open’ character was much too dangerous,” he said. “With all due respect to the participating espoirs and amateurs.”

After Pozzato had delivered his post race ‘favorito’ message towards Gilbert, the Belgian was quick with a light-hearted response.

“Me the favourite?” he joked. “I just sent him an SMS to congratulate him on his victory, and ‘in passing’ I let him know that it’s now incumbent on him to make the race.”

Should the two riders’ rivalry manifest itself in Sunday’s race we should be treated to a fierce, yet good-natured, contest between the Belgian and Italian teams. A battle between two of the strongest teams should hopefully lead to some exciting racing.

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