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Italian climber hopes to escape the grasp of the overall contenders
Domenico Pozzovivo is keen to land his first victory as an Ag2r-La Mondiale rider, and has hinted that he may attack early on the slopes of Green Mountain at the Tour of Oman on Thursday in attempt to win the stage.
The featherweight pure climber from the south of Italy is hoping that the big-name overall contenders such as Alberto Contador (Team Saxo-Tinkoff), Vincenzo Nibali (Astana), Chris Froome (Team Sky) and Cadel Evans (BMC Racing Team), will all mark each other closely, giving him the chance to steal an advantage and win.
"It would be great to win my first race in Ag2r-La Mondiale colours. The team's already won a stage at the recent Etoile des Bessèges thanks to Samuel Dumoulin, but another win would be good for our morale too," he told Cyclingnews in Oman.
"We've got several options because Rinaldo (Nocentini) is going well and is well placed overall. I'll have the freedom to attack, perhaps even early on the climb, and he'll ride with the aim of defending his overall position. Let's see what the other riders come up with tactics-wise."
Pozzovivo has spent all his career riding for the Italian team managed by Bruno and Roberto Reverberi, which was last year known as Colnago-CSF Inox and Ceramica Panaria in previous incarnations. He has consistently been one of the best climbers in Italy but stepped up a level by winning a stage at the Giro d'Italia and finishing eighth overall in 2012. An overall victory at the Giro del Trentino also boosted his UCI points total and made him a tempting target for Ag2r-La Mondiale, which was desperate to stay in the WorldTour for 2013.
Pozzovivo is pretty fluent in French and has quickly fitted in at the team, even if he is struggling to find race clothing that fits him perfectly. The brown Ag2r-La Mondiale shorts were close to covering his knees, making him look even smaller than he really is.
"I've fitted in pretty well. I already spoke French and now it's just getting better and better. I got to know the guys in the team at the training camps and now I feel one of the family," he explained.
"Its good being part of a major WorldTour team because I know my race programme and my goals for the year ahead. I'll be the team leader at the Giro d'Italia and then again at the Vuelta. All the mountain stages in both races are perfect for me but unfortunately there's also the 50km time trial in the Giro. That's still my weak point because I'm a pure climber."
Pozzovivo still commutes to races by plane, now just changing his usual destination from Milan to Paris and some of his race programme. This year he is also testing his form in the heat of Oman, instead of suffering the cold conditions of the Trofeo Laigueglia or the GP Lugano.