Filippo Pozzato (Italy) admitted that he focused on the wrong man in the finishing straight of the world championships road race and was ill placed to react when Thor Hushovd (Norway) launched his winning sprint. The Italian ultimately finished in fourth place.
“I was on Oscar Freire’s wheel, but today Oscar’s wasn’t the right one,” Pozzato told Gazzetta dello Sport after the race. “I wanted at least a medal, you could see how I was going in the last 30 metres. I needed to be a couple of positions further up when the sprint was launched. If so, things would have gone differently.”
Pozzato encountered a similar problem on the stage to Toledo at the Vuelta a España, when he was too far back to respond to Philippe Gilbert’s powerful sprint, but the man from Sandrigo took some consolation from finishing ahead of the Belgian in Geelong.
“On the last lap, I had cramps everywhere,” he said. “But at the end, I was the best-placed of the riders like Gilbert and Cadel Evans who didn’t want a sprint and who wanted to make the race difficult by going on the attack.”
The Italian was fulsome in his praise of the new world champion and was the first to offer his congratulations to the Norwegian on crossing the finish line. “A deserving champion won,” Pozzato said. “He’s a rider who will honour the jersey.
“For me, third or fourth doesn’t make much difference. The important thing is to win,” he said. “I’m sorry for the team because we wanted to dedicate something to Franco Ballerini, and I’m also sorry for Paolo Bettini because he believed in us to the last. But we can be proud of how we raced.”
Vuelta a España winner Vincenzo Nibali was very active on the front of the race for Italy and he said that Hushovd’s win was testimony to the difficulty of the race. “We tried to make the race as hard as possible,” he said. “The fact that a fast-finishing rouleur won shows that the race was hard."
Meanwhile, his fellow Sicilian Giovanni Visconti was disappointed to have to sit up in the finale after injuring his knee. “My chain slipped and my foot came out. I banged my knee off the handlebars, and I couldn’t pedal like I wanted,” he said. “But we have no regrets. We didn’t ride in the wheels of anybody else, we did what Paolo Bettini wanted.”