Pozzovivo hoping to be back to his best in 2017

Italian climber mixing training with studies for second degree in sports science

Domenico Pozzovivo heads to Gandia, Spain today to join up with his AG2R-La Mondiale teammates for an important December training camp. While many of his teammates enjoyed an end of season holiday in October or November, Pozzovivo preferred to stay at home near Lugano and study for his second university degree. He has already has a degree in business economy, now he is studying sports science.

"I'm half way through the course, I've got ten exams left to do. I recently did an exam in anatomy and got 30 out of 30," Pozzovivo told Gazzetta dello Sport.

"I'm studying sports science because I'd like to stay in cycling when I retire, perhaps as a coach. It's more difficult to study now I'm older but I think I can finish the degree in two or three years. I used to prepare for exams during Grand Tours but that's more difficult now."

Pozzovivo turned 34 on November 30, but believes he can still be competitive in Grand Tours. Romain Bardet will lead AG2R La Mondiale at the Tour de France after his impressive second place behind Chris Froome, so Pozzovivo hopes to have the leadership at the Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a Espana in 2017 after a disappointing 2016. He will again make his season debut in the sun at the Tour Down Under.

Return from injury and poor form

Pozzovivo is known for his attacks on tough mountain stages of Grand Tours but his career suffered a blow when he fractured his leg in 2014 and then landed on his face in a nasty crash at the 2015 Giro d'Italia.

In 2016, the plan to use his form from the Giro d'Italia at the Tour de France didn't work out and, in stead, he helped Bardet secure his important place on the podium. Pozzovivo raced for 84 days, between the Tour Down Under and Il Lombardia in 2016, but failed to land any major results. He was 20th in the Giro d'Italia and 33rd at the Tour de France.

"2016 was a season to forget. I never really felt good on the bike," he explained to Gazzetta dello Sport. "I consider it as a year out despite racing the Giro and Tour. It's given me extra motivation to get back to my best. I'm sure I will.

"The 2015 crash in the Giro was a blow but didn't cause any long-term damage. The crash in 2014 was more serious because I fractured both my tibia and fibula. That made things difficult but I feel I'm fully recovered now and I've put it all behind me. I'm motivated to ride my bike and study for my exams."

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