In the absence of exceptional champions or personalities riding for general classification at this year's Giro d'Italia, the revelation thus far has been Domenico Pozzovivo. The 29-year-old Colnago-CSF Inox rider is currently contesting his sixth corsa rosa, but only now has he been the focus of such media attention and scrutiny despite previous encouraging overall results in 2007 (17th) and 2008 (9th). It's not too late for his compatriots to know the numerous interests he has besides cycling though.
In addition to his climbing prowess on the bicycle, Pozzovivo has attracted perhaps even more attention for his myriad interests outside of cycling, such as meteorology, economics and politics. After stage 13 to Cervere, he was asked to play piano live on TV at the post-race show Processo alla Tappa. More interestingly for the Giro d'Italia itself, he's been questioned about the weather conditions for the coming two stages. He downplayed predictions that the peloton's foray into the mountains would be amidst horrible conditions.
"The latest forecast I've seen mentioned 5°C at the top of Cervinia," Pozzovivo said. "At 2,000 metres of altitude, even 2 or 3°C aren't bad." If his weather predictions come to fruition, Pozzovivo is optimistic about his chances for victory on stage 14 in the Valle d'Aosta.
At the start in Savona, his directeur sportif Roberto Reverberi told Cyclingnews: "I have no doubt that Pozzovivo is physically able to ride for the overall victory in this Giro d'Italia. It depends more on the conditions of racing that we'll face."
Pozzovivo, from Basilicata in the south of Italy, is currently 14th at 1.12 from race leader Joaquim Rodriguez and spoke about his chances to move up on general classification this coming weekend.
"Tomorrow is a much longer climb than Lago Laceno but it's a bit easier too," Pozzovivo told Cyclingnews: "I might try and do something to get further up in the general classification and I'll certainly have some thoughts about the stage win, but out of the two stages this weekend, the one on Sunday is better suited to me.
"To be honest, for now I'm still thinking about stage wins but on Sunday we'll take stock and see if it's worth hanging tough on all the stages and having a go for the general classification."
In his blog for Cyclingnews, Marco Pinotti described Pozzovivo as "the Colombian from Italy". He certainly has the capacity to ride everyone off his wheel in some of the coming climbs, but the second question mark over Pozzovivo is his ability to perform over three weeks.
"In the final week, I've always gone well, both when I finished 17th and when I came 9th," Pozzovivo said. "The losses I'd taken all beforehand were through crashes, flat stages and time trials. So I'm optimistic from that point of view, I'm certainly not afraid of the third week. The fact that I've already been on top form for over a month, since the Giro del Trentino, is a bit of a question mark, but I'm not concerned about coping with three weeks of racing."
For the first time, Pozzovivo puts his feet in the camp of the favorites. "I can see that Basso's form is on the up," he noted. "Already at the start of the Giro, Scarponi was quite advanced. We know Rodriguez always goes well in the opening weeks, but on the long climbs he might lose a bit. I also think Kreuziger is pedalling really well and doesn't seem under any strain."