Italian Filippo 'Pippo' Pozzato (Liquigas) grabbed another big one last Saturday in Lokeren by winning the 62nd Omloop Het Volk, adding to a palmarès that includes a Tour de France stage, the HEW-Cyclassics and last year's Milano-Sanremo. The victory proved his worth on Belgian soil and will surely put his name at the top of the list of contenders for April's Ronde Van Vlaanderen. Cyclingnews' Gregor Brown caught up with the Italian in Kuurne to learn more.
Not as big as his 2006 Sanremo win, taken on home soil and the stuff of every Italian's dreams, the Omloop Het Volk helped to build Pozzato's status as a one-day rider, and especially as a rider for the Northern Classics. His tactics in the closing kilometres of Saturday's race were brilliant, not often found in a young rider, but then again, Pippo has been professional since 2000.
The last kilometre of Het Volk was a pure test of will and patience. There were two men up front, Spaniard Juan Antonio Flecha (Rabobank) and Aussie Stuart O'Grady (Team CSC), and Pippo was sitting in a group of four with Belgians Tom Boonen (Quickstep-Innergetic), Nick Nuyens (Cofidis) and Aussie Baden Cooke (Unibet.com). When Cooke faded, Nuyens launched, and instead of immediately following Pippo waited behind to let the Belgian rivalry play out.
"The last two kilometres I thought we could pull them in [Flecha and O'Grady] but before that I did not think we had a chance," Pippo said. "Also they were tired, there was a lot of headwind, so, they were feeling the pain, like us."
For the full feature on Filippo Pozzato, click here.