Former Milan-San Remo winner, Filippo Pozzato has said that his current two-year contract with Southeast will be the last of his career, and he will retire at the end of the 2017 season. The Italian says that he hopes to remain in cycling following his retirement by creating his own team.
“I want only two years more, this year and next year,” Pozzato told Cyclingnews ahead of the final stage of the Tour de San Luis last Sunday. “After my career, I want to try to become a team manager and to give to the riders what I didn’t have in another team. To give the possibility of being professional at the best time.”
Pozzato has been a long-standing member of the peloton and has a wealth of experience after turning professional with Mapei-QuickStep in 2000. He has ridden for a wide variety of teams including Fassa Bortolo, Liquigas, Katusha and most recently Lampre-Merida. He is hoping to build his new team with his current Southeast team manager Angelo Citracca, and he has already been putting in the work to set it up. Pozzato has big ambitions for his project, but that will have to wait a little longer as he focusses on the remainder of his racing career.
“First of all, I would like it to be Pro Continental and then after for sure I would love it to become a WorldTour team. For one year, I have already been in contact with sponsors, but it is difficult. I think for a WorldTour team you have to be working at it for two years only for this, and now I don’t have time, afterwards, maybe it is possible.”
Back home and dreaming of Flanders
Pozzato signed a two-year deal with the Southeast-Venezuela team last December after months of speculation. After spending all but one season at the top level of cycling, Pozzato denies that it is a step back for him and says that little has altered for him in 2016.
“For me it hasn’t changed too much because the programme has stayed the same,” he said. “[The only difference is] the Tour de France, but normally I don’t want to ride at the Tour de France because I don’t like the race. It is too much stress all the time, now I’m old, and I don’t really want to take a risk every day. Last year, in the first 10 days I crashed eight times, I don’t like this. I prefer doing the Giro d’Italia.”
His career may be in its twilight, but Pozzato is hoping that this latest team move will help him jumpstart it. A very popular figure among the peloton, Pozzato was once seen as a future star for Italian cycling in the Classics. He began to live up to that promise in 2006 with victory at Milan-San Remo. Wins also came at Omloop Het Niewsblad in 2007 and E3 Harelbeke in 2009, along with stage victories in all three Grand Tours.
Pozzato’s career hit the rocks in 2012 when he was suspended for three months for working with banned doctor Michele Ferrari. He had a successful return with Farnese Vini–Selle Italia that same season but has has taken just three victories since signing with Lampre-Merida in 2013. Pozzato blames his poor results on troubles at the team and says he feels much happier in his new home.
“For me, it is like being back home. The team is small, and for me that it is better. It is possible to speak and work with the team. It is possible to have discussions, and this is important for me because I like it more when I can work with the team and not only have them telling me that you can do this and this,” Pozzato said.
“With Lampre, I had problems for the last two years and, for this reason, I didn’t get the results in the races. Because one time they will say that you race and then after they say that you don’t. I knew that I was doing the Tour de France just six days before. It is not normal for the planning. Now I want to look only forwards.”
Doing just that, Pozzato has returned to Europe from his season opener on the road at the Tour de San Luis. He’s next set to ride the GP Costa degli Etruschi, the Trofeo Laigueglia, Ruta del Sol before he starts his Classics campaign at Omloop Het Niewsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne followed by Strade Bianche and Milan-San Remo.
E3 Harelbeke and Gent-Wevelgem will form the last part of Pozzatto’s build-up to his major target of the Tour of Flanders. “My dream is for sure Flanders,” he told Cyclingnews. “I was second in 2012, and I want to try for the win.”
Pozzato is also hoping for a wildcard at Paris-Roubaix before he begins preparation for the Giro d’Italia with the Giro del Trentino. The main focus of the second half of his season will be the World Championships in Qatar, but his preparation will only be decided after the Giro d’Italia.