Filippo Pozzato looking for fresh start after signing for Farnese Vini – Neri Sottoli
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Sunday, September 18, 2011

Filippo Pozzato looking for fresh start after signing for Farnese Vini – Neri Sottoli

by Shane Stokes at 8:52 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
Talented Italian under achiever hoping to reboot career with Pro conti squad

Filippo PozzatoAfter three stressful years at Team Katusha, where he struggled to meet expectations and to deliver on the promise he showed by winning Milan Sanremo at 24, Filippo Pozzato has signed with the Farnese Vini – Neri Sottoli team for 2012.

The 29 year old former national champion had offers from at least five other teams, two of them holding ProTeam licences, but has opted to go with the Italian Pro Continental setup. He believes he must go back to basics in order to rebuild himself as a rider, and

“I'll go to Farnese Neri,” he confirmed. “I'll do it because I know how Scinto works, and I want him for my next season. This group is able to work for a captain, and I'm ready for this in a group which, for sure, can give me the incentives to give my best.

“I always appreciated the methods of Scinto, and after many years in a ProTour team I decided to turn things around completely. I need to say thanks to the other teams who pursued me during this months, to Bernaudeau of Europcar, to the Lampre team but also the others, Saxo Bank, Geox, Green Edge. I'm flattered that they have searched for me, but I feel now that this is the right choice for me.”

Pozzato showed his talent at a young age with 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 Katusha in 2009 when he won the E3 Prijs Vlaanderen and the 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. He fractured his clavicle and the radius of his left wrist in the Tour of Belgium in May, struggled to 124th in the Tour of Poland, and then fell down the stairs at his home in August, hit his head and required eight stitches. He suffered concussion as a result.

His performances have been muted in the weeks since, the Italian taking 30th in the Tour du Poitou Charentes et de la Vienne and 39th in the GP Ouest France in Plouay. He was a non finisher in the recent GP de Montréal.

Despite that, he had several teams chasing his signature. He weighed up the choices and despite a big offer from Europcar, kept thinking about what was best for his career.

The final decision was made on Friday after a meal at the house of Mauro Cei, the owner of Macolive SpA, which will come on board as one of the team’s sponsors in 2012. He spoke with team management there and late at night, took the decision to sign with the squad.

“I want to do well in this, and to reward the trust of Sciotti [the owner of Farnese Neri], Zecchetto [owner of Giordana, DMT and Mcipollini], Baronti [Neri Sottoli] and the other sponsors that believed in me,” he said.

The team had a lot of success in recent years, particularly with Italian champion Giovanni Visconti, but his decision to leave for Team Movistar led it to search for a new ‘name’ to head the squad. “We know that our group of young riders is special,” said team manager Angelo Citracca, “but without Visconti we needed a new captain.

“Pozzato, a real flag of Italian cycling in the world, is perfect for our project and we are confident we could bring him up.”

Need to return to winning ways:

Pozzato’s early career marked him out as a rider who could win the biggest races in the sport, but in recent years he has seemed more concerned about looking good on the bike than actually going fast. Often there in the finale of big races, he seemed to miss the last ten percent to grit his teeth and really dig in. It’s unclear whether that was down to an inability to cope with pressure or instead to an unwillingness to fully commit, to hurt himself in the chase of victories, but something just wasn’t working.

Pozzato’s body language showed his strength, but when it came to the time to use that power, the big move never happened. Instead, he earned criticism by racing negatively against riders such as Philippe Gilbert and Fabian Cancellara, marking them at crucial points of races without coming through and riding.

All this led to very real tension between the Italian rider and the team’s general manger Andrei Tchmil, who last October 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 then. “You could call it grinta. I am sick when I see what opportunities he has squandered.”

However Farnese Vini-Neri Sottoli director sportif Scinto relishes the chance to work with the rider. “I like challenges, and Pozzato is our new bet for next season,” he said. “But I know that we will start with an important advantage. We are working with a talent, a rider who has a great motor so we need only to remind him of the rules, the fundamental aspects of his work, to be ready to be hard on him in moments of difficulty, who often has forgotten who he is and what he can do”

The team has a promising lineup, not least with Andrea Guardini, the rapid neo pro who won eleven races this year and who has shown that he could be one of the top sprinters in the sport. Scinto is excited about 2012 and what it offers. “With [Oscar] Gatto, Guardini and Pozzato, I'm sure we will be able to win other, important races next year,” he asserted.

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