Unexpected turnaround could see Pozzato stay with Katusha
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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Unexpected turnaround could see Pozzato stay with Katusha

by Shane Stokes at 9:03 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Signing for Lampre-ISD now not certain

Filippo PozzatoAlthough a move to Lampre-ISD appeared all but certain in recent days, Filippo Pozzato gave the unexpected news today that he could potentially stay with the Katusha team next season.

There has been very real tension between the Italian rider and the team’s general manger Andrei Tchmil in recent months, with the latter revealing the discontent last October when he told La Gazzetta dello Sport that the rider wasn’t delivering on his potential. “Pozzato has so much talent but he lacks something,” he stated. “You could call it grinta. I am sick when I see what opportunities he has squandered.”

Since then, Pozzato has largely failed to land the results expected of him. A disappointing Classics season was followed by two fractures in the Tour of Belgium, and non selection for each of cycling’s Grand Tours. Now, bizarrely, it seems that there might be a chance for the rider and team.

“I have not signed with anyone. There are also other possibilities,” he told Tuttobici today. “There will be changes here at Katusha, which would also like to keep me here. So it’s not that I must necessarily change teams.

“Now we will consider [things] for a moment. I'll know something more concrete soon and then I’ll decide where to go. We’ve already met Katusha twice because there is this desire on their part to extend the contract. We'll see…”

If it does indeed happen, the turnaround will be the most unexpected twist yet in the career of the 29 year old Italian. He moved to the Russian Katusha team in 2009 and was expected to continue to build on what had been a very strong pro career. His early results prior to the move included that Milan-Sanremo success, as well as overall victory in Tirreno-Adriatico at just 21 years of age, a stage win in the Tour de France at just 22 and various other triumphs.

Yet, despite a solid start with the team when he won the E3 Prijs Vlaanderen and that Italian championship, netted a stage in the Three Days of De Panne and placed second in Paris-Roubaix, he hasn’t developed. Over the subsequent two years – and despite a stage win in the 2010 Giro d’Italia - he has gained the reputation as a rider who crumbles under pressure and doesn’t make the most of his opportunities.

This season was particularly disappointing with just fifth in Milan-Sanremo and third overall in the Tour de Picardie offsetting otherwise mediocre results. His search for better performances have however been hampered by the fractures to his clavicle and the radius of his left wrist he sustained in the Tour of Belgium in May. He was only 124th in the recent Tour of Poland.

His battle to regain form was then complicated five days ago when he fell down the stairs at home, hit his head and required eight stitches. He returned to competition yesterday and was 83rd in the Tre Valli Varesine.

Being passed over for the Giro d’Italia frustrated him and showed to what extent things had changed for the rider. He also missed out on the Tour de France when the team decided to send only Russian competitors to the race, but would have struggled to be fit after his Tour of Belgium injuries.

Pozzato wanted to ride the Vuelta a España in order to prepare for the world championships in Copenhagen. He was also passed over for selection there, though, and it was expected that this was a clear sign that he was heading out of the fold.

His comments in the Italian media also gave this impression. “I have not signed, but I have made my choice,” he stated recently, according to Il Giornale di Vicenza. “I will race with Lampre. A few days ago I was with Damiani [Lampre ISD general manager Robert Damiani] and I will see him again soon to work out the various details related to my move to the new team.”

That statement now appears to have been premature, with Katusha appearing keen to renew after all.


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