By Gregor Brown in Roubaix
Filippo Pozzato's Northern Classics campaign ended on a low note in Roubaix's velodrome, following the 259.5-kilometre Paris-Roubaix in northern France on Sunday. The 26 year-old Italian of Team Liquigas was involved in a crash two kilometres before one of the race's key pavé sectors, and, although he finished the race, he left disappointed.
"I was calm heading into the race and for this reason I believed there would be no problems. ... I did not see who caused the crash; maybe it was a High Road rider. It was stupid – I was up on the sidewalk," said 'Pippo' Pozzato of the crash, two kilometres before the Trouée d'Arenberg, near kilometre 161. The 2400-metre pavé sector is the race's first deciding sector.
The winner of the 2006 Milano-Sanremo continued, "I went sliding on the sidewalk in the middle of the group. I was able to come to a stop but there were others crashing from behind. I was hooked by my handlebars; my right leg [with open shorts and gash] is fine, but the pain is here [inside of left thigh - ed.]. All of my muscles there are causing me pain. Afterwards I was not able to put in the force."
Pozzato won the first race of his season, a stage and the overall of the Giro della Provincia di Grosseto, and built his form well heading into one of his key season objectives, Milano-Sanremo. He finished second in Italy's one-day race and headed north with confidence; however, the results did not come. He had a lackluster Ronde van Vlaanderen ("Flanders was a little bit of a let down"), redeeming Gent-Wevelgem ("I saw that my legs are still good") and a crash yesterday in France. Pozzato, from Italy's Veneto region, indicated he is not pleased with the results and will skip Amstel Gold next Sunday.
He showed professionalism and a desire to continue strongly in one of cycling's most prestigious events, as he chased back on to the group of favourites for the following 33 kilometres. "I did a few sectors, but I knew I would not be able to continue with the pain."
Many wondered why Liquigas did not send back Murilo Fischer or Manuel Quinziato to help Pozzato. The former protected the team's position at the front of the group through Arenberg, while Quinziato's wheel suffered broken spokes in the same crash with Pozzato, although he was able to re-join immediately. "I called them, but I was not able to hear anyone or anything on the radio," Pozzato continued. "Quinziato did well for himself."
Pozzato continued his chase ("After about 20 kilometres I changed my bike. It was a quick bike change and it did not take me long to re-enter.") and finished the race, after being dropped from the favourites during the final round of artilleries, 15'42" back.
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