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Pozzato's mind focused on Ronde van Vlaanderen

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Italy's Filippo Pozzato leads in De Panne, but focused on Ronde

Italy's Filippo Pozzato leads in De Panne, but focused on Ronde (Image credit: Tim Van Wichelen)
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Pozzato's Ronde favourite: Boonen

Pozzato's Ronde favourite: Boonen (Image credit: AFP)

By Bjorn Haake in Zottegem

Filippo Pozzato's brilliant form has netted him two wins this season – E3 Prijs on Saturday and the first stage of the Driedaagse De Panne on Tuesday – but the Italian rider of team Katusha is focused on Sunday's Ronde van Vlaanderen.

"Sunday you need to have great legs for the Ronde van Vlaanderen and I hope I will have them. It is important to be good on Sunday, not today," he said after his win in De Panne.

If Pozzato doesn't have the overall lead going into the final De Panne stage he will hold back to save strength for Ronde.

"It's quite emotional to sign in in Brugge with all the fans. And then the Muur de Grammont, with all the spectators, it is a great feeling for the riders."

The Ronde van Vlaanderen is 260 kilometres and features 16 climbs, and many of those are covered with hard-to-manage cobbles. Pozzato considers two-time Ronde winner Boonen the favourite to win.

"Tom Boonen was calm behind and he didn't make the race today. We will see on Sunday, when you have to go 100%. For me Boonen is still favourite number one. Sure, I am also one of the favourites, but if you ask me to give one name it is his [Boonen's]."

Belgium-based Quick Step has strength in numbers with Boonen and defending champion Stijn Devolder, and a strong support cast. The Russian Katusha team is a new formation in comparison, and many question its depth.

"Remember that Quick Step has guys like Boonen, [Sylvain] Chavanel and Devolder. It's not easy for any team with such riders in the front group. they have three riders who can win the Ronde, whereas from my team I am the only one. But I am calm, my teammates give 100 percent."

Pozzato said he felt really good within the new team and confirmed he had the same liberties at his former team, Liquigas. He won the Het Volk for the Italy-based team in 2007.

"In 2007, I was sick before Sanremo and things weren't going so well. Last year, I finished second in Sanremo, sixth in Flanders and I crashed in Paris-Roubaix. Now I have gotten some results so I hope this is good for the Northern Classics."