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Pozzato optimistic about Flanders chances

Filippo Pozzato (Lampre Merida) has sounded an optimistic note about his chances at the Tour of Flanders on Sunday and expressed the hope that his sub-par showing at Milan-San Remo was due to the extreme weather conditions.

Pozzato was well-placed on the Poggio when the decisive move went clear two but was unable to follow and finished the race in 33rd place, and he subsequently failed to make an impact at E3 Harelbeke or Gent-Wevelgem last weekend.

“The condition is good, it’s where I wanted it to be,” Pozzato told La Stampa. “It’s true that Milan-San Remo didn’t go the way I thought it would. I had to use up a lot of energy between the Cipressa and the Poggio and I was missing something in the end. That can happen when it’s very cold, and often the values are falsified a bit.”

Last year, Pozzato came agonisingly close to winning De Ronde, losing out to Tom Boonen in the sprint in Oudenaarde, but said that he had no regrets about taking his chances in the sprint instead of attacking the Belgian in the finale.

“I have only one recrimination – I should have launched the sprint earlier because Tom suffers in long sprints,” Pozzato said. “For the rest, I’d do the same as I did a year ago. I sparked the move and then in the end, I was confident because I’d beaten Boonen before in a sprint at Harelbeke.”

Like most, Pozzato views Peter Sagan (Cannondale) and Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Leopard) as the outright favourites for victory on Sunday, although he warned that Sagan’s tactical acumen still needs to be sharpened.

“At Milan-San Remo he was the strongest, even though he lost to Ciolek. He’s a fuoriclasse, but winning so much so early can also wear you down and have a boomerang effect. He’s racing a lot. He needs to learn how to measure and manage himself as best he can.”

Pozzato expressed admiration, however, for the colour that Sagan brings to the sport and disagreed with Cancellara’s assertion that the young Slovak’s exuberant victory celebrations are disrespectful to his rivals.

“I like Peter. With every win, he comes with something new,” Pozzato said. “He rides the bike like he’s in a rodeo, he imitates the Incredible Hulk or Forrest Gump. Basically, he creates spettacolo and that’s what we want in modern cycling. And the rivalry with Cancellara can only be good for the whole environment.”

Pozzato’s 2012 season was interrupted by a three-month suspension after he confessed to training under the supervision of Dr. Michele Ferrari between 2005 and 2009. Another Ferrari client, Lance Armstrong, finally confessed to doping in January of this year but Pozzato said that Armstrong’s admission had damaged cycling.

“A legend of our sport has fallen and new, fierce criticism has fallen upon cycling,” Pozzato said. “I hope that there aren’t other similar confessions and that people look instead at what we’re doing now to escape from the tunnel.”

Pozzato was one of a number of riders who abused Filippo Simeoni after he had clashed with Armstrong during stage 18 of the 2004 Tour de France. Simeoni was suing Armstrong for libel at the time, after the American had branded him a “liar” following his testimony against Ferrari at a hearing in Bologna.

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