Filippo Pozzato (Lampre-Merida), 2006 victor, wants to relive a boyhood dream by winning Milan-San Remo on Sunday. He appears to have the legs with his Trofeo Laigueglia win and remains in good spirits, so anything is possible for the Italian.
“Last year, I had a broken collarbone and was coming from behind. I went well in San Remo [sixth], great in Flanders [second] and crashed in Paris-Roubaix,” Pozzato said on Monday evening. “I’ve already won two races… Oh, wait, only one!”
Pozzato likes to joke and dress well. The Rolex on his arm counts the time passed since he served a suspension related to known doping doctor, Michele Ferrari. After three months off, he has returned to the first division with Lampre for 2013.
He almost had two wins. There is a beautiful photo of Pozzato winning the bunch sprint with his hands in the air in front of Rome’s Colosseum. He thought he won the Roma Maxima, but failed to note that Blel Kadri (Ag2r-La Mondiale) finished solo 37 seconds beforehand.
It is better to look ahead, to San Remo
“It’s an important race for me, I always dreamt about it as a boy,” Pozzato explained.
“There are only two big Italian one-day races, Lombardy and San Remo. I have no chance in Lombardy, so San Remo is my race. I think it’s a bit like the Tour of Flanders for the Belgians, ‘La Settimana Santa.’”
Petacchi or attackers?
Lampre wants to field 2005 winner, Alessandro Petacchi. If they do, they need to decide how many men they will devote to Petacchi trying to win a sprint.
Pozzato wants riders to attack and weaken the sprinters, like Mark Cavendish (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) and in that sense, Petacchi.
“The team is important; it’s a special race where you need your men at those certain points. You need a man to work on Mànie. I talked to the directors yesterday. What I’ve asked is to have someone who can work on Mànie. After that point, he can stop.
“For Cipressa you need to have two men. After the Poggio, you need to be able to handle it alone. I’d like to have a rider like Diego Ulissi, but I know the team will give me Davide Cimolai and Daniele Pietropolli.”
Damiano Cunego and Michele Scarponi will race elsewhere.
“I’d rather have [Cunego] and Scarponi in the team… You can’t hide it, [Petacchi and I] are two different riders – you have to make a choice between us. We have to make a decision beforehand, not in the race itself. I’m going to talk with Alessandro and the team to see what we can do. We have to be grown-ups about it.”
Pozzato sees Milan-San Remo like the World Championships or another Monument. In the first hours, you need to pass your time, but remember to eat and drink. You need to ride at the front for the first climb, the Turchino. After that, the race descends to the Italian Riviera and chaos ensues.
“On the Tre Capi, you’ll understand if you’re né carne né pesce (‘nether good nor bad’). On Cipressa, it’s on and you’ll know if you are going to win or not,” Pozzato continued.
“The Mànie is a key point. You got to go hard to get rid of the sprinters. If there’s not a headwind, we’ll have our chance [to blow up the race].”
Cavendish lost ground last year on the Mànie climb and was unable to re-enter the action.
“The best thing would be to arrive alone, but with cycling now it’s hard to win alone. The ideal thing for me would be to win in a sprint of four to five. If Peter Sagan is there, it’ll be hard to beat him. With the way cycling is, no one has the strength to arrive alone.”
Pozzato checks the time on his Rolex. An hour had passed. With the voice recorders off, he offered the journalists espressos and continued to talk for another 30 minutes, until 23:00. It is typical Pozzato, but he is clearly happy and ready to re-live a childhood dream.