News Feature, March 28, 2009
Filippo Pozzato moved himself onto the list of top favourites for the upcoming Ronde van Vlaanderen with a strong sprint win in the E3 Prijs in Harelbeke, Belgium this weekend. He took the victory over the race's number one favourite, Tom Boonen, after 208 kilometres of racing. As his first win in over a year, it is a sign of good things to come for the Italian of Team Katusha.
Pozzato's victory came after he followed an attack by Boonen on the Knokteberg climb at 25km to go, and along with Maxim Iglinsky (Astana) formed a three-man breakaway that made it all the way to the finish line.
Pozzato manoeuvred Boonen to the front in the final 500 metres to position for the sprint and then out-gunned his rival on the Gentsestraat finishing straight to mark his first win since the Giro della Provincia di Grosseto in February 2008.
E3 Prijs, March 28
Q: What is the meaning of this race win, two years since your Het Volk victory in Belgium?
FP: "I am happy, but I am sorry for Boonen because we are great friends. I know that in this period am going well, but I have not been able to win. Today was hard too, to ride against the teams like Cervélo, Rabobank and Quick Step.
"It was good when Tom went on the Knokteberg, that gave me a chance and I went with him. I know that I could win. I know I am one of the favourites, but sometimes I make mistakes."
Q: You had 25 kilometres to size up your rivals. What do did you make of Boonen and Iglinsky?
FP: "Boonen looked so strong. He was up front so early with the team always there to support him. For me to win in front of him on his home turf was a good thing! Iglinsky is a good rider, sort of surprise for us, but not a new rider. He is going well."
Q: You mentioned Rabobank and Cervélo, but how was Team Katusha today?
FP: "We have a good team. We had four of us before Boonen attacked. Of course it was not like Quick Step or Rabobank, who had about all eight of their men!"
Q: You were up against a former world champion in the sprint. Where you worried for the finish?
FP: "We got up to 50 seconds on the chase. I was able to get Boonen up front for the final 500 metres, that was important. He is faster than me, for sure, but in a hard course I have a chance to beat him.
"Boonen is the favourite for Flanders, he was stronger than everyone last year. Fabian Cancellara was always on his wheel and so Tom was not able to win."
Ronde van Vlaanderen, April 5
Q: At Flanders you finished sixth last year and 14th the year before, after your Het Volk win. Do you feel confident for 2009?
FP: "I had the confidence last year too. I was going strong. I was going badly all day last year in Flanders, but this year we want to have a good race and make a good show. It is important that the strongest rider wins, not someone who just gets lucky.
"Flanders is like a dream. I like these Belgian races a lot. Maybe this year I will go stronger, but I cannot get the win, who knows."
Q: Does Katusha have the firepower to battle the bigger teams?
FP: "The team is motivated for Flanders. We do not lack experience; we just need to have good health. I think [Serguei] Ivanov was going well today and he will have the legs for next Sunday. We will all have the legs.
"I worked a lot at Tirreno-Adriatico and then in Milano-Sanremo. Unfortunately, Milano-Sanremo did not work out for me. I hope for more at Flanders."
Q: With one week to go before the race, who do you see as the favourites to win?
FP: "Again, Boonen is the number one favourite. Then the Cervélo boys: [Heinrich] Haussler, who seemed a little tired today, and [Thor] Hushovd.
"Columbia is going well too, but when you only see the other two you are with [at E3 Prijs] then you can't judge them all. I know [George] Hincapie and [Marcus] Burghardt are going strongly. I did not see them in the finale today and I hope I don't see them Sunday!"
Pozzato left the cold and wet of Belgium to return to his home in Monaco. He will stay there until the start of De Panne on Tuesday.
Filippo Pozzato: It's time to win