It is hard to think that the same Filippo Pozzato that won the 2006 Milano-Sanremo and this year's Omloop Het-Volk also won the Tirreno-Adriatico four years ago. In 2003, riding for Fassa Bortolo, the then 21 year-old triumphed in Tarquinia, taking the stage and overall lead, which he held to the end. The Corsa dei Due Mari put his name in the press but his subsequent wins over the last years confirmed his depth.
"I remember the emotions of Tarquinia, when I arrived ahead of Bettini and Vainsteins," he recalled to La Gazzetta dello Sport on the eve of the 2007 edition. "Still, to this day, it remains one of my most important career successes. Above all, for the first time I was in a team that was all riding for me. There is where I started to learn the techniques of leadership."
Now, after racing side-by-side with Paolo Bettini for 2005 and 2006, the 25 year-old from Veneto is once again up against the great champion. "It will be the first time, since my coming over to Liquigas, that we will race against each other. But we still have a great relationship and it was Bettini who was the first to congratulate me after Het Volk. Certainly, to battle and win against the World Champion would be a dream."
'Pippo' wants to keep modest objectives for the race across Italy. He would like to win a stage but is not considering the overall win. "Above all a stage win," he quipped. "I will not start with the intentions of the overall classification. If I am able to ride a good time trial... but I think that the mountain top finish the day after will be particularly hard."
His goals are set high, including three Classics. Shortly after Tirreno will be Pippo's first of four goals, Milano-Sanremo, March 24, a race he won last year. "Liquigas are going very strong," he continued, noting the win of teammate Franco Pellizotti in Paris-Nice. "In the Belgium races, at the start of the month we were up at the same level as Bettini and Boonen's Quick-Step. For this reason, I am thinking of Sanremo, Flanders, Gent-Wevelgem and Roubaix; the four appointments that I have marked. I have made big plans."