Down but not out
Italian back in action at Giro after some time off
I'm down but I'm not out. As you probably saw yesterday, I crashed hard but I managed to get up, and I'm determined to keep going. I want to win a stage in this year's Giro and so there was no way I was going to quit unless I was really hurt.
I'm a bit stiff and beaten up, but it would have been crazy to quit so early in the race. Hopefully, I'll recover quickly and fortunately the volcano ash isn't going to affect our plane transfer to Italy. I'll be a lot better after the rest day and a good plate of Italian pasta.
I know some people are perhaps even surprised to see me riding the Giro because I just did a big block of racing in the spring. This is only the third time I've ridden the Giro after 2005 and last year but it's always been on my programme because this year I'm not doing the Tour de France.
The Tour de France is the biggest race in the world but it's a huge effort for a rider like me and my chances of winining a stage are limited. I rode last year, but just spent three weeks in the bunch because it's so hard for breaks to stay away when the sprinters and their teams are so strong. Hopefully, I'll have more chance to win a stage a the Giro.
To be honest I was going to do only two weeks and then ride the Tour de Suisse to peak for the Italian National championships. I'd love to defend my Italian champion's jersey, but I recently saw the course and realised it's far too hilly for me. It's a crazy course, and so I'm going to ride all of the Giro and then take a break in the early summer before getting ready for the second half of the season.
I'll ride the Vuelta to be at my very best for the World Championships in Australia. It's now my big, big goal for the season. It'd be pretty good if I can be the next Italian to win it. I think I'd look pretty good in the rainbow jersey.
Missing the Tour also means I can be good for other races like the Clasica San Sebastian, Hamburg, Paris-Tours and even the Tour of Lombardy. I've gotten results in those races in the past and so I'll try and win at least one of them. Having an end of season like Philippe Gilbert did last year would be make up for disappointing spring.
I want to race hard at the Giro and get a stage win. There are three or four where a break could go and stay away. I've put a star next to the three stages after the team time trial. They could all be good for me, especially the stage to Montalcino. It includes the dirt roads in the finale, and I've always gone well in the Strade Bianche race, so I'm up for that one. The overall contenders will want to avoid any problems there and so it will be controlled, but I think the uphill section of dirt roads will get rid of the pure sprinters, and I reckon I have a good chance of winning it.
I'll probably need a few days to get going again, to be honest. I had a break after Amstel Gold race, and I've done a good block of training before the Giro. I actually went skiing for a couple of days after Amstel. I didn't touch my bike for four days and two of them I spent on the piste near Livigno in Italy. There was still a lot of good snow and the piste were virtually empty. It was perfect.
Some people might think it's a bit risky for a pro rider to go skiing during the season but I needed to switch off and freshen up for a few days, and it worked. I had a total of four days off the bike but when I gotten back, I'd forgotten all about the classics and was ready to go training again. Anyway, if it's okay for Andy Schleck to go dancing at a DJ Tiesto concert, I think it's okay for me to go skiing.
What did you think of the start of the Giro in Amsteram? It felt strange not being in Italy despite being on the Giro, but it was a different way of kicking things off. I went to see Anne Frank's house the day before the time trial, and it was incredible to think she spent two years hiding in that house. I heard that some riders managed to fit in a sneaky visit to the red lightt district, but I was a good boy.
I think Cadel Evans is the big favourite for overall victory in the Giro. He showed it in the time trial and by how he rode in the wind on Sunday. He got the pink jersey by chance but it happened because he was in the right place at the right time. Ivan Basso and Carlos Sastre could do well, but I don't think they can beat Evans.
My outsider is Domenico Pozzovivo, the little climber from Colnago-CSF. The tough final week really suits him. There aren't any super long time trials where he'll lose a lot of time. He's a nice guy, too, so give him a shout if you visit the Giro.
Whoever wins the final maglia rosa, I hope it's just a good, entertaining Giro this year. Italian cycling is struggling at the moment, and the news that Pellizotti is facing disciplinary action over his UCI Biological Passport was another blow. I consider Franco a friend, but I'm also in favour of the passport. He's claimed he's innocent, and so let's see what happens before judging him.
Some people thought they were seeing double at the start in Amsterdam because there were two Italian champions in the race. The "other" Pozzato is actually a young Dutch guy called Chris. He's got the same bike, kit, helmet and glasses as me. I first met him last year during the classics. He's a huge fan and I'm thinking about hiring him as my double. That way he can do the races I don't want to do. It would be nice if he could have all the crashes, too.
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Filippo Pozzato burst onto the scene in 1998 when he won a silver medal in the World Junior Road Race in Valkenberg. He skipped riding as an under-23 rider and signed a contract with Mapei. Since then he's established himself as the rider in the peloton with the most bling and has notched up victories in Milan-San Remo, Het Volk, and stages of the Tour de France.
Now a leader at Katusha, Pozzato is one of the most feared and respected Classics riders in the bunch and you can follow his 2010 Spring campaign right here on Cyclingnews.com