Filippo Pozzato (Lampre-Merida) has vowed to improve on his lacklustre showing in last season’s spring classics, admitting that he has “no excuses” if he doesn’t perform this April. Currently training in California, the Italian maintains that he can compete with – and beat – his former teammates Fabian Cancellara and Tom Boonen on the cobbles in 2014.
“I’m working very well, but I don’t want to make big declarations. I have to go well on the bike and not in my words,” Pozzato told Gazzetta dello Sport.
“In 2013, I put on a very bad show, and that won’t happen again. I’d have to have a broken leg to go worse than that again. In those two races [the Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix], I have to be in front and in contention, I simply don’t have any excuses. Cancellara and Boonen have shown a lot more than me these past few years, but I feel I can beat them.”
Now 32, Pozzato has just one monument classic on his palmarès – the 2006 Milan-San Remo – as well as second place finishes at the Tour of Flanders (2012) and Paris-Roubaix (2009). While the cobbled classics will again be the centrepiece of his spring campaign, the man from Sandrigo reckons he will still be competitive at Milan-San Remo, in spite of the addition of the climb of the Pompeiana in the finale.
“I’ve already seen the Pompeiana several times,” he said. “It will change things a lot. There won’t be any let up in the last 45 minutes, but I don’t think that it will eliminate me from contention.”
Pozzato begins his 2014 season at the Tour de San Luis in Argentina (January 20-26) and he has been on the other side of the Atlantic since the turn of the year, training near Los Angeles. He defended the decision to train in southern California, and made no apologies for sharing pictures of his off-the-bike activities on social media.
“I love California, I’d come here to live. The roads and climate are perfect for training at this time of year and it’s a great place to spend your free time. What’s the harm in that?” said Pozzato.
“Take Twitter. I show myself as I am. I put everything out there, not like certain colleagues who seem to live the life of monks. I train here, but I also eat in fashionable restaurants. The fans like that, and so do I. If they choose to follow me, it’s logical that they want to see all of me, and not just a filtered version. I hate hypocrisy.”
Pozzato also welcomed the arrival of Davide Cassani as new coach of the Italian national team – “It’s no secret that there were disagreements between [Paolo] Bettini and the federation, so for me it was only a relative surprise,” he said – and called on the structures of cycling to change under the new presidency of the UCI.
“We need a real circuit where the best riders face each other in the best races,” he said. “A ‘top rider’ should race 80 days a year at the most. As well as that, they should introduce novelties like in Formula 1, where you can listen to the conversations between the drivers and the pits.”