- Cycling News
December 25, 2010, 14:18 GMT,
December 25, 2010, 14:44 GMT
Pippo heads to the track to avoid the snow
Merry Christmas and happy holidays wherever you are and what ever you are doing. I hope it's a good one with plenty of cheer.
I'm spending the holidays with my parents in Italy in my hometown of Sandrigo near Vicenza. After some serious blocks of training in the last few weeks, it's time for a few easy days, a few drinks and some definite non-cycling food. There's plenty of time during the rest of the season to make up any missing kilometres, do a few extra intervals and eat a little less. Lets enjoy it while we can!
If you live in Europe I'm sure you've been fighting the terrible weather. Oh for the good times when we could ride in shorts and an open jersey!
I've probably avoided the worst of it but it's still been difficult to get in enough quality training. I think I'm about a week behind schedule but I'm not getting stressed out about it. That's not my style anyway and it certainly doesn't resolve anything.
One of the reasons I live in Monaco is for the weather and I try to avoid training in the rain if I can. Perhaps I'm not as hard as Andrei Tchmil, my boss at Katusha, or the Belgians and Scandinavian riders but fortunately I don’t need to be. I've no problem going out in the rain when I'm in Belgium and it's three days before the Tour of Flanders, but if I've got a choice I'd rather miss a day's training that get a soaking or freezing for five hours and then come down with a cold and spend much longer off the bike. It seems pretty logical to me.
The weather's pretty bad in Italy so I've come up with an ingenious idea to keep rolling. I'm happy to let the Belgians play around at cyclo-cross, they seem to like the mud and the cold. I prefer to keep warm and dry and so I'm going to ride on the new covered track in Montechiari near Brescia, for a few days.
Along with my new teammate Luca Paolini, I'm planning to do about three hours a day, with perhaps some speed work behind the derny and some sprints. I rode on the track a lot as a schoolboy and junior and it will help keep my leg speed and keep me ticking over until the second Katusha training camp in the New Year.
The camp will be in Calpe again but we might head somewhere warm for a few days before then and even mix in a stay at altitude. We're looking at Tenerife or even Cyprus, which is not as warm but looks like a good place to get in a solid block of training.
My 2011 season starts in Qatar
I'm going to kick off my 2011 season at the Tour of Qatar and the Tour of Oman again. It's worked pretty well in the last few years and is a great way to build on the base fitness. I don't have to fight for the sprints and echelons every day and I'm not under pressure to win, so can carefully do almost three weeks of quality work. I spoke to Eddy Merckx recently, who organises Oman and he told me that this year's route is a bit hillier. We'll hopefully be staying in the same luxury resort on the beach, too. That's not a bad place to spend ten days in mid-February is it?
After that my season will follow the usual roads. I'm going to ride Omloop whatever they call it now, the Giro del Friuli in Italy, the Strade Bianche, Tirreno-Adriatico, Milan-San Remo, Gent-Wevelgem, De Panne, Flanders and then Roubaix.
I'm really looking forward to the spring. I think it should be a really good showdown in the Classics. There are several teams who will be fighting it out for success and the rider transfers during the winter have changed the balance of power in the peloton. Garmin-Cervelo is the super team on paper but BMC is also looking good. Me, Leif Hoste and Luca Paolini are a good trio, Boonen seems back to his best at Quick Step and then there is the new Luxembourg team. It'll be interesting to see if they live up to all the hype.
Bring on the New Year and the new season!
- Cycling News
November 04, 2010, 17:53 GMT,
November 05, 2010, 12:44 GMT
Pippo reflects on his 108 days of racing in 2010
I heard that some riders are already back on their bikes and training for the 2011 season. But I don’t want to even see a bike for a while yet.
I finished my season at the Tour of Lombardy and the last time I touched my bike was when I gave it to the mechanic after the race. That was two and half weeks ago but I haven’t been on holiday yet because Katusha had a get-together immediately after Lombardy and I also went to the Tour de France presentation.
At the weekend I went for the annual trip to pick olives with some of the guys I go training with near my home in Sandrigo and it was also my fan club's annual dinner. A lot of eating and drinking went on, and now is the right time for it.
I've been hanging out in Monaco this week and I'm heading to Valencia in Spain to watch the last Moto GP race of the season, thanks to a special invitation from Valentino Rossi. After that I'm off on holiday. I'm going to Bali for two weeks with some friends, with a few days in Singapore on the way there.
108 days of racing
I can't wait because it's been a long season. I started at the Tour of Qatar in February and I've calculated that I had 108 days of racing this season. I did 102 last year and thought that was a lot but this year was tougher because of the world championships in Australia.
I know people will immediately say 'You raced a lot but you didn’t win much'. That's true, I know that and accept that. I only won a stage in the Giro d'Italia, the Ballerini Memorial race and the pre-worlds Herald Sun World Cycling Classic. But I'm satisfied with my season. A rider of my calibre should win more but I was always up there in the results during the season and I was especially proud of my third place in Paris-Roubaix and of my fourth in the world championships. People tend to forget about results like that but they mean you rode well and were pretty close to getting a huge result.
I was unlucky to be ill during the cobbled classics and so miss the Tour of Flanders, but I'm confident in my own ability. I'm going to keep training and racing hard in 2011 and know that things will go my way in the future.
No need for Cipollini
I get a lot of criticism in the Italian press but that's partly because these days only me, Basso and now Nibali are the big names in the sport. People seem to like taking shots at me but as I said in my first ever blog, 'Only God can judge me'. So I just brush off the criticism and hold my head up high.
Some people think that I need Mario Cipollini at Katusha to help me, that he will somehow toughen me up and suddenly help me win more. I've nothing against Cipollini and it's not up to me to decide who works at Katusha team, but I know he won't help me win anymore. And I think Andrei Tchmil knows that too.
Because it's the end of the season I thought I'd pick my favourite moments of the season and the best performances I've seen out on the road.
Personally I think riding for Italy at the world championship was my best moment of the season. I was the captain but wasn't affected by the pressure and the Italian team was really tight. The result wasn't what we hoped for but we dissected how we rode for 90 minutes the evening after the race and we know we raced well as a team, especially compared to other major nations like Spain and Belgium. We laid the foundations for a new team for the next few years and it was a perfect way of continuing what Franco Ballerini would have wanted.
I was impressed by how Hushovd won the world title. The race went his way and everything came back perfectly for him but he pulled out a great sprint and is a good world champion.
Gilbert was also amazing, at the worlds and in the sprint and at Lombardy, while Cancellara was unbeatable in the cobbled classics. It'll be interesting to see if he will be equally as good in 2011 without Riis there to guide him. I was pleased that Basso won the Giro and Vincenzo Nibali really stepped it up a level by winning the Vuelta. People have said that Italian cycling is in a crisis but we've won two of the grand tours.
Hopefully I can help end our two-year run of poor results in the classics in 2011.
- Cycling News
September 07, 2010, 18:54 BST,
September 07, 2010, 20:08 BST
Pippo lives like a monk as he counts down the days to Melbourne
Hola from the Vuelta! We're virtually halfway through the race now and we're about to head into the Pyrenees. I'm not looking forward to that because we'll be riding to defend Joaquin Rodriguez's race lead but it's nice to have the red jersey in a major tour.
I would have liked to have won a stage myself but it's no big deal. Everything is going really well so far as I cross off the days to the world championships in Australia. There are just 26 days to go now and I can feel my form is coming on nicely. I've still got about 1.5kg to lose before I'm at my optimal weight but I'll lose that in the second half of the race and be perfect for when I get on the plane for Australia on the Tuesday after the Vuelta.
I've been doing quite a bit of extra training during the stages of the Vuelta by doing some efforts to move up the bunch in the finale or by pushing myself to stay with the leaders on the climbers even when I knew I couldn't get a result. I finished with the front group in Vilanova i la Geltru and even had a good go in the sprint. It's all about getting ready for the world championships.
World championship rivals
The Italian national coach Paolo Bettini was at the Vuelta for a couple days and we had lunch together on the rest day. We've been speaking regularly since he took over Franco Ballerini's job and we both want to do well in Melbourne as a way of remembering Franco.
I'm letting Paolo worry about the Italian team selection and I've been focusing on studying our key rivals here at the Vuelta. Philippe Gilbert stands out as the big danger so far. He might be going very deep early on but he's shown how good he can be by the way he took the leader's jersey and then fought to keep it. He's been designated the absolute leader of the Belgian team but that's good news for us because it means they will be willing to do some work to control the race for him. At least they better do, because there's no way Italy is going to do all the work this year.
I've also been keeping my eye on Nicolas Roche, Oscar Freire and Thor Hushovd. Roche could be a real threat if he gets a late move in Australia and then attacks alone on the last lap. Hushovd was good when he won his stage and could also be up there in the finale. But he will have to be riding very, very well and often isn't in the worlds. I know Oscar Freire is still recovering from his nose problems and has been out of the results so far but he can't be forgotten. He won three world titles when he supposedly had a bad back and so he's always a threat.
Fabian Cancellara could also cause us problems but it perhaps depends on what happens at Saxo Bank in the next few weeks. We were all surprised that Andy Schleck and Stuey O'Grady didn't start after the rest day. I don't know what they got up to but at the end of the day, Riis is the boss of the Saxo Bank team and so he decides the rules that have to be followed.
We've got a lot of similar rules at Katusha and Andrei Tchmil wouldn't allow anything like that to go on. We like to joke around sometimes but we know we can't go out for drinks during a race. Nobody is perfect but I've been living like a monk for the last few weeks and will continue to do so until the Tour of Lombardy. I'll enjoy myself when it's all over, at the end of the season, and when nobody can tell me what I can and can't do.
I'm sure you've read that I'm under investigation by the Italian tax office. It's true. But I'm not at all worried because I really do live in Monaco and have done so for a few years.
They searched by parents home for four hours when I was there after the Giro. I think they were looking for contracts and stuff but they didn't find anything because the only thing I own in Italy is a house and I've always paid tax on that. They asked me about my Ferrari but I told them that the three cars I own, including the Ferrari, are registered in Monte Carlo. Of course I do spend some time in Italy but everyone knows I do most of my training in Monaco and then spend also spend lot of time away at races. I'm hardly ever in Italy.
Dave Zabriskie's brother
You might have noticed that I've been sporting a rather dapper moustache at the Vuelta.
I think I look pretty good with it but of course Andrei Tchmil doesn't agree and keeps telling me to shave it off. He's really old school but fortunately facial hair isn't covered by our internal team regulations and so I can keep it for now.
There seems to be a bit of a fashion for 'i baffi', as we call them in Italian. Dave Zabriskie has got a 'tache too. Joaquin Rodriguez reckons I look like his twin brother. I've nothing against Zabriskie, but to be honest, I think I'm a little bit better looking….
If you don't like my moustache don't worry, it's coming off after the Vuelta. I wouldn't want anything to spoil my look on the podium at the world championships.
- Filippo Pozzato
August 25, 2010, 13:14 BST,
August 25, 2010, 14:29 BST
Pippo gets ready for his big goal of the season
It's almost time for the Vuelta and so that means it’s only about three weeks until we leave for the world championships in Australia. And I'm starting to get ready for the biggest goal of my season.
Of course, Paolo Bettini hasn't announced the Italian team yet but I know he considers me a key part of his squad and I've been working hard to be at my very best on October 3.
The Vuelta will be the final part of my build-up and then I'll leave for Australia on the Tuesday straight afterwards. I'm travelling to Seville today for the start of the Vuelta and so I'm already on the road and won't be home until after the Worlds. That's okay because my aim is to come home with the rainbow jersey in my suitcase. And if I can't win it myself, hopefully another of the Italian riders can win it again.
For the last ten days I've been training at altitude in Livigno, high up in the Italian Alps. I did a week up there in July too before the Tour of Austria but this time I got in a serious block of training. I did a week of long hard rides and I've done some speed and threshold work in the last few days. I was there with my teammate Marco Bandiera and Luca Paolini for most of the time, then Alessandro Ballan, Mauro Santambrogio and Cadel Evans arrived too.
A stage win in the Vuelta
I'm really looking forward to the Vuelta. I intend to go all the way to the finish Madrid this year because there's an extra week between the Vuelta and the world championships this time. Some riders might pull out after two weeks but that will mean they won't race for three weeks before the Worlds. That is far too long. Of course it's tricky to balance recovering from a three-week race, a 27 hour flight to Australia and a nine hour time change. But we're flying business and I'll listen carefully to my body in the final week of the Vuelta.
I'll be looking for stage wins at the Vuelta. Like I said, I'm confident of securing a place in the Italian team but I know I have to prove that I'm on form if I want an important role in the team. I've spoken to Bettini a lot and he pointed out that he always tried to win a few races before the Worlds to let everyone know he was on form and deserved to a team leader.
I get on well with Paolo and he's already shown he's a good national coach even though he's only been in the job a few months. I don't envy his position though. He's got to make some tough decisions in the next few weeks and is responsible for building a good Italian team and then delivering a result under huge pressure.
Too tough for the sprinters
I've seen some of the recent stories on Cyclingnews about the Australian team for the world championships and the decision not to select Robbie McEwen. I feel sorry for Robbie, he's a good guy, a dedicated pro and a good teammate but to be honest, I just can't see him being up there because the circuit in Geelong is too tough for him and for most of the other pure sprinters.
I don’t know if Cavendish has seen the course but I think he will also be in for a shock. He surprised us all when he won Milan-San Remo but I went to Australia in July with Bettini specifically to see the course and came back knowing that the two climbs on each of the laps and especially the rising finish will be too tough for the sprinters. The climbs are short but they hurt, while the finish has a gradient of 2% for the first part and then rises at 4% for the final four hundred metres.
It's similar to the finish in Stuttgart in that respect, where Paolo won his second world title in 2007, but I think it's probably even harder. That's why it doesn’t suit the sprinters and is more suited to classics riders who are also fast finishers. Hopefully that includes me.
- Filippo Pozzato
June 23, 2010, 22:16 BST,
June 24, 2010, 3:27 BST
Pippo defends Cavendish
Hello from Livigno. As some riders get ready for the Tour de France or target the national championships this weekend, I'm up here in the mountains preparing for the second half of my season.
You might be surprised that I'm not going to defend my Italian tricolore jersey on Sunday but the course in Italy for this year's race is far too tough for me. It's for Ardennes classics riders like Nibali, Visconti and even someone like Ricco, so there was no point in trying to hold my form after the Giro.
I'm actually at the start of phase two of my season. My big goal is the world championship road race in Melbourne under the management of new national coach Paolo Bettini. Before that I'll probably ride the Tour of Austria, the Tour de Wallonie, the Clasica San Sebastian, Hamburg and then the Vuelta.
I had 12 days off the bike after finishing the Giro d'Italia and to be honest I loved every minute of it. I went on holiday and spent time on the beach with my family before spending some time in Monte Carlo.
I know 12 days off the bike mid-season might seem a lot but I needed it. I'm not a robot and need my time to recover, so that I can be fresh for other key objectives. I started training in November and started racing in Argentina in January.
I had a heavy spring and struggled on through illness as far as the Amstel Gold Race as well. I then got back on form for the Giro and made it all the way to end in Verona. I deserved a good break after that but I'm already back to doing four hour rides and a bit of specific work.
Neck on the line
I'm sure you noticed that I've signed a new deal with the Katusha team for 2011. It's only a one-year deal because that's what I wanted. I haven't got many great results this year but I'm not afraid to put my balls on the line and take a risk. My new contract is based more on results and I'll earn more than I did this year if I win the races I know I can win.
I thrashed the deal out with Katusha team manager Andrei Tchmil during a five-hour meeting at the weekend. I had other offers, even financially better offers, but I feel like the Katusha team is my team and that we've grown and matured together since the team was created in 2009. Tchmil has got some serious plans for the future. He wants to sign a stage race leader and other key domestiques who can help me and the team in 2011.
We celebrated inking the deal with champagne and while Andrei and I are very different, we actually understand each other and get on really well. He was a tough classics rider and thinks I'm a bit too friendly with my rivals but we're both ambitious and serious when it comes to cycling.
Leave Cav alone
While I had some time off I didn’t want to know about what was happening in the world of cycling. You can understand that, can't you? But since I got back into training I quickly got up to date and a lot of people told me to look at the YouTube video of the crash at the Tour de Suisse. I've now watched it a few times and I have to say I think that Cav does not deserve all the blame he's been getting. And the protest the day after was a bit of a joke.
In the video you can see that Cav moved across the road but then Haussler hooked him instead of bouncing off him. That makes it as much as Haussler's fault as Cav's fault.
The truth is that a lot of contact, pushing and fighting for wheels goes on in every sprints. The real problem is that there are always rider up there in the sprints who shouldn't be there. They just get in the way and cause problems for the riders who know how to handle the sprints. I'm sorry that Coyot fractured his shoulder but he just shouldn't have been there.
I was also sorry to hear about Kim Kirchen's sudden problems. The team told us all that he's now out of a coma and gradually recovering. Fortunately the doctors managed to save his life and I hope he can make a full recovery and enjoy the birth of his twins that are due any day now. All the best Kim!
- Filippo Pozzato
May 10, 2010, 20:06 BST,
May 10, 2010, 21:10 BST
Italian back in action at Giro after some time off
I'm down but I'm not out. As you probably saw yesterday, I crashed hard but I managed to get up, and I'm determined to keep going. I want to win a stage in this year's Giro and so there was no way I was going to quit unless I was really hurt.
I'm a bit stiff and beaten up, but it would have been crazy to quit so early in the race. Hopefully, I'll recover quickly and fortunately the volcano ash isn't going to affect our plane transfer to Italy. I'll be a lot better after the rest day and a good plate of Italian pasta.
I know some people are perhaps even surprised to see me riding the Giro because I just did a big block of racing in the spring. This is only the third time I've ridden the Giro after 2005 and last year but it's always been on my programme because this year I'm not doing the Tour de France.
The Tour de France is the biggest race in the world but it's a huge effort for a rider like me and my chances of winining a stage are limited. I rode last year, but just spent three weeks in the bunch because it's so hard for breaks to stay away when the sprinters and their teams are so strong. Hopefully, I'll have more chance to win a stage a the Giro.
To be honest I was going to do only two weeks and then ride the Tour de Suisse to peak for the Italian National championships. I'd love to defend my Italian champion's jersey, but I recently saw the course and realised it's far too hilly for me. It's a crazy course, and so I'm going to ride all of the Giro and then take a break in the early summer before getting ready for the second half of the season.
I'll ride the Vuelta to be at my very best for the World Championships in Australia. It's now my big, big goal for the season. It'd be pretty good if I can be the next Italian to win it. I think I'd look pretty good in the rainbow jersey.
Missing the Tour also means I can be good for other races like the Clasica San Sebastian, Hamburg, Paris-Tours and even the Tour of Lombardy. I've gotten results in those races in the past and so I'll try and win at least one of them. Having an end of season like Philippe Gilbert did last year would be make up for disappointing spring.
I want to race hard at the Giro and get a stage win. There are three or four where a break could go and stay away. I've put a star next to the three stages after the team time trial. They could all be good for me, especially the stage to Montalcino. It includes the dirt roads in the finale, and I've always gone well in the Strade Bianche race, so I'm up for that one. The overall contenders will want to avoid any problems there and so it will be controlled, but I think the uphill section of dirt roads will get rid of the pure sprinters, and I reckon I have a good chance of winning it.
I'll probably need a few days to get going again, to be honest. I had a break after Amstel Gold race, and I've done a good block of training before the Giro. I actually went skiing for a couple of days after Amstel. I didn't touch my bike for four days and two of them I spent on the piste near Livigno in Italy. There was still a lot of good snow and the piste were virtually empty. It was perfect.
Some people might think it's a bit risky for a pro rider to go skiing during the season but I needed to switch off and freshen up for a few days, and it worked. I had a total of four days off the bike but when I gotten back, I'd forgotten all about the classics and was ready to go training again. Anyway, if it's okay for Andy Schleck to go dancing at a DJ Tiesto concert, I think it's okay for me to go skiing.
What did you think of the start of the Giro in Amsteram? It felt strange not being in Italy despite being on the Giro, but it was a different way of kicking things off. I went to see Anne Frank's house the day before the time trial, and it was incredible to think she spent two years hiding in that house. I heard that some riders managed to fit in a sneaky visit to the red lightt district, but I was a good boy.
I think Cadel Evans is the big favourite for overall victory in the Giro. He showed it in the time trial and by how he rode in the wind on Sunday. He got the pink jersey by chance but it happened because he was in the right place at the right time. Ivan Basso and Carlos Sastre could do well, but I don't think they can beat Evans.
My outsider is Domenico Pozzovivo, the little climber from Colnago-CSF. The tough final week really suits him. There aren't any super long time trials where he'll lose a lot of time. He's a nice guy, too, so give him a shout if you visit the Giro.
Whoever wins the final maglia rosa, I hope it's just a good, entertaining Giro this year. Italian cycling is struggling at the moment, and the news that Pellizotti is facing disciplinary action over his UCI Biological Passport was another blow. I consider Franco a friend, but I'm also in favour of the passport. He's claimed he's innocent, and so let's see what happens before judging him.
Some people thought they were seeing double at the start in Amsterdam because there were two Italian champions in the race. The "other" Pozzato is actually a young Dutch guy called Chris. He's got the same bike, kit, helmet and glasses as me. I first met him last year during the classics. He's a huge fan and I'm thinking about hiring him as my double. That way he can do the races I don't want to do. It would be nice if he could have all the crashes, too.
- Filippo Pozzato
Filippo Pozzato burst onto the scene in 1998 when he won a silver medal in the World Junior Road Race in Valkenberg. He skipped riding as an under-23 rider and signed a contract with Mapei. Since then he's established himself as the rider in the peloton with the most bling and has notched up victories in Milan-San Remo, Het Volk, and stages of the Tour de France.
Now a leader at Katusha, Pozzato is one of the most feared and respected Classics riders in the bunch and you can follow his 2010 Spring campaign right here on Cyclingnews.com