After his dramatic win in the 97th edition of Milano-Sanremo, 24 year old Filippo Pozzato is the new star of Italian cycling. Like his near neighbour in Verona, 2004 Giro d'Italia winner Damiano Cunego, Pozzato was born in 1981 and is seen by the tifosi and "i big" in Italian cycling as the next great Italian classics rider. Cyclingnews' Tim Maloney recently sat down with Pozzato at his home in Sandrigo, near Vicenza, Italy for an interview where the friendly, likeable Quick.Step rider told us about the big win on via Roma and his big plans for the rest of the 2006 season.
While Pippo finished an interview with SkyTV, we visited with his dad Carlo, mom Franca, who offered Cyclingnews warm Italian hospitality, as did friendly yellow lab Sandy who took advantage of the wait to have numerous pets and belly rubs.
Finally Pippo came into the cucina and we spoke to him before he sat down to a high protein lunch. We showed him a copy of photographer Roberto Bettini's win shot from Milan-Sanremo, with Pozzato's victory salute, runner-up Petacchi's clap of frustration just behind and teammate Tom Boonen's exultant salute of his own just behind in his distinctive World Champion's jersey.
Cyclingnews: Filippo, just what was going through your head at that moment?
Filippo Pozzato: Well I didn't realize that Tom had done that... Petacchi, I don't care, but I really liked Tom's gesture. Above all, as a sportsman, as a person, he showed he's a great guy.
It was something spontaneous, something from his heart. Tom gained a lot of points with me as far as I'm concerned with that gesture. In fact, at the Tour of Flanders, I'm more willing than ever to help him win. To be up front with him and help him win again would be beautiful.
CN: Twenty meters before the finish line in Sanremo, you looked back of your left shoulder. What was going on then?
FP: Before that, I was looking back between my legs to see if anyone was coming around me. So when I looked around then and saw I was going to win, it was just a feeling of liberation. It was such a beautiful moment when I realized I was going to win... to explain it to someone who isn't a racing cyclist, who hasn't felt those emotions is really difficult. I think that it's only the athletes who can understand this feeling.