Filippo Pozzato (Wilier-Selle Italia) is hoping to earn a place on the Italian team for what he says would be the final World Championships of his career in Bergen next month. The 35-year-old has said that next season will be the last of his professional career and he acknowledged that he will not be a contender for selection for the tough 2018 Worlds in Innsbruck.
"I eased off for ten days and then started preparing for the end of the season because I want to be in Bergen," Pozzato told La Gazzetta dello Sport. "It's my last opportunity to wear a jersey to which I am particularly attached."
Pozzato confirmed that 2018 will be his final season in the peloton and suggested that he will try to create a new professional team once he hangs up his wheels, perhaps with Ignazio Moser, formerly of the BMC development team.
"Next year will be my last season but I'm not thinking about the Worlds, which will be for the climbers. I want to do a very good four months: up to the end of the Classics, I want to be super, but in any case, I'll finish out the season before I launch myself into a new project," Pozzato said.
"Italy needs [a new team]. It could start off as a Pro Continental team and with a new vision, which would be more captivating for the sponsors too. And with new people, young people."
Pozzato's first outing in Italy's maglia azzurra at the World Championships came in Valkenburg in 1998, when he took the silver medal in the junior road race behind Ireland's Mark Scanlon and bronze behind Fabian Cancellara in the time trial.
Pozzato became a mainstay of the national team in the early part of his professional career, and played a supporting role for Paolo Bettini in his Worlds triumphs of 2006 and 2007, though he was left out of the team in Varese the following year.
In 2010, Pozzato was handed the leadership of the Italian team for the Geelong Worlds but had to settle for fourth place behind Thor Hushovd. Since then, Pozzato has been a sporadic presence at the Worlds. He rode well in support of Vincenzo Nibali in Florence in 2013 but has not featured in the race since Davide Cassani took over the reins of the national team in 2014. Pozzato travelled to the Worlds in Doha last year, but only as an unused reserve.
"If they had asked to do me that five or six years ago, I would have stayed at home," Pozzato admitted. "With Cassani, I have a clear relationship. He gave me a role, to build team spirit, and I was more than happy to do it. It was a proposal that made me very happy also because it showed the value of what I can do outside of races."
Cassani picked Pozzato as part of a largely youthful Italian selection at last year's Tour de San Luis, and the Wilier rider maintains that he can join Daniele Bennati in performing as a road captain in Bergen.
"I see myself as a lynchpin in a team of young riders," Pozzato said. "If Pozzato is going like he knows how to, he can be essential, and not only because of his experience. Those who understand cycling know that Bennati was superlative in that role last year. Together, we could do great things."
After a ten-day spell in Ibiza – "I took the bike to get out and do two or three hours tranquillo every morning," he stressed – Pozzato resumed training in earnest at the weekend and returns to competition at the Tour de Limousin and Tour du Poitou-Charentes later this month.