Domenico Pozzovivo's Giro d'Italia stage victory today was a career first for the diminutive Italian and for it to take place at Lago Laceno in the Campania region of southern Italy was extremely meaningful in the tumult that the country is currently experiencing. The Colnago-CSF Inox rider's own life is a success story of a young man who moved from the south to the north of Italy for cycling and conducted his studies at the same time.
Two years ago, Pozzovivo's family travelled to Rome where he read his thesis in economics: "Southern politics from the unity of Italy up to now". Since then, the degree holder has been known as "Dr. Pozzovivo". His interests go way beyond the realm of competitive cycling, however, as the 29-year-old Italian is a self confessed weather forecast addict while also professing a love of history, technology, economics and politics.
"I don't belong to anti-political movements," he said after winning at Lago Laceno, possibly in response to the numerous recent votes at Italian town council elections in favor of former comic and blogger Beppe Grillo. In the past, Pozzovivo expressed his sympathy for the centre-left "Partido Democratico" of Pier Luigi Bersani. At the post-race press conference, he supported the current Italian government led by economist Mario Monti. "This is the only medicine to get out of the economic crisis we're facing," he said.
Pozzovivo noted that cycling helps him combine his other passions. "Every cycling season is a history of Italy and Europe," he said. "I love nature and the mountains. I'm a climber. My job allows me to enjoy it all. Now I've won a stage at the Giro d'Italia. It puts my morale very high.
"People say that it is an easier Giro this year. I'd say it's a more human race than last year. It's a nice Giro. There are hard stages to come but not something that will slaughter us. I'm not worried about the third week. I'll try my best on GC."
The slightly built rider from the Basilicata region joked about his stature (1.65m, weighing in at 53kg): "I wouldn't like to be 2.10m and play basketball but I would have loved to be 1.80 or 1.75 and be able to look at everyone is the eye."
After dropping everyone on the last climb before the finish, the winner of the Giro del Trentino expressed a wish for his future: to ride the Tour de France. "For every bike rider, it's a dream," said Pozzovivo. "Who knows… Roads could take me to the Tour in coming years. Climbs in France are less steep than in Italy but the heat in July suits me."
While Pozzovivo has the utmost confidence in his climbing ability, he noted that his descending prowess, particularly on wet roads, is not a strong suit. Shall the third week of the Giro be dry, he's a potential overall winner – and a great campaigner for his homeland in the south of Italy.