Aru is the only Italian Grand Tour winner in this year's Giro and wears the Italian national champion's jersey but his inability to stay with the other overall contenders has left the tifosi and his new UAE Team Emirates manager Giuseppe Saronni disappointed and unsure if the Sardinian can bounce back in the mountains and recoup the time he has lost.
Aru still believes he can turn his race around but he is now 15th overall, 2:36 down on Simon Yates (Mitchelton-Scott) and nine seconds behind fellow struggler Chris Froome (Team Sky).
In contrast, Pozzovivo has looked strong since the start of the Giro d'Italia in Israel. He surprised many by being the best Italian in the opening time trial, finishing 10th, only 27 seconds down on Tom Dumoulin (Sunweb). He has finished in the group of overall contenders on every hilly and mountain finish so far, only losing 26 seconds to Yates on Mount Etna after arguably attacking too often before Yates made his solo move.
Pozzovivo is trying to win a stage as well as fight for the overall classification, using his pocket-rocket build and unusual out of the saddle attacks to hurt his rivals. So far he has perhaps attacked at the wrong moment or surged to the finish instead of waiting for the final kick to the line, as was the case at Campo Imperatore on Sunday.
"I did a long surge to the finish in the hope of distancing some of my rivals. That perhaps worked [Dumoulin lost 12 seconds] but I knew it could cost me the stage win. There was a strong head wind so I suffered as the others sprinted to the line," Pozzovivo explained to La Gazzetta dello Sport.
"However, I'm happy with how my race has gone so far. People are talking about me for a place in the top five but I'm not excluding anything."
Pozzovivo’s best result in the Giro d’Italia is fifth in 2014. He also has four other top-10 results and seems to have benefited from moving from AG2R La Mondiale to Bahrain-Merida. With Vincenzo Nibali targeting the Tour de France, Pozzovivo’s season has been built around leadership at the Giro d’Italia. He is hopeful of emerging in the final week of the race.
Pozzovvivo will lose time in the Trento to Rovereto time trial but has the final mountain stags in the Alps to make up for any losses and fight for a final podium spot in Rome.
"Any doubts about Yates over three weeks of racing are also valid for everyone else," Pozzovivo argued.
"However, last year I showed that I could attack in the third week. If my attack on the stage to Asiago with Ilnur Zakarin had worked out, then I could have been on the podium."