By Gregor Brown
Perhaps you first came to know the Filippo Pozzato when he appeared on television screens with his hands raised in a victory salute at the end of Tour de France's stage to Saint Brieuc in 2004. He was then only 22 years old and developing under the sharp eye of one of Italy's greatest directeur sportifs, Giancarlo Ferretti.
But to Italians Pozzato was already their hidden jewel before that day. He took home the silver medal at the Under-19 World Championships in 1998 and claimed medals in several other track events in both 1998 and 1999. His progression continued throughout his early professional years with the Mapei squad, where he earned numerous wins in lower level races.
Fame in his home country came in 2003, with wins in the Trofeo Laigueglia and the Tirreno-Adriatico general classification. He international-level Tour de France win was followed with the HEW Cyclassics in 2005, Milano-Sanremo in 2006 and 2007's Het Volk and Tour de France stage five.
The 2008 season was painfully void of big victories for the rider from Sandrigo, Italy. Despite a win in the Giro della Provincia di Grosseto, the biggest news of Pozzato's season came during July when rumours revealed he would ride for Russian team Katusha.
Click here to read the interview with Filippo Pozzato.