Almost every rider has a hard luck story to tell at the end of Paris-Roubaix, but Filippo Pozzato’s was arguably more frustrating than most on Sunday. Crashes and punctures are hazards that face all participants in the Hell of the North, and while Pozzato was one of the fallen with 60km to go, it was ultimately a puncture to his Katusha team car that ended his race.
Although Pozzato himself emerged relatively unscathed from the crash that befell him on the smooth road after the pavé at Orchies, he required a change of bike to continue. However, the unfortunate Italian found himself stranded in the most bizarre of circumstances and with his dreams of victory gone up in smoke, he abandoned the race.
“I hit a problem there as we didn’t have a car behind because it had punctured, so I couldn’t change my bike,” Pozzato told Cyclingnews after climbing out of the broom wagon at the finish. “The gear lever came off, so I couldn’t go on.”
Pozzato’s frustration was compounded by the fact that he had been riding with the group of pre-race favourites at the time of his accident, having safely negotiated the Forest of Arenberg near the head of the peloton.
“I was at the front,” he lamented. “Coming out of the forest I was right up there at the front.”
After suffering from cramps in the finale of the Tour of Flanders, Pozzato had been far more optimistic about his chances in Roubaix, and explained that he had been encouraged still further by his fluidity on the early sectors of cobbles.
“On the stretches of pavé I was going well, although it’s easy to say now that I was going well,” he smiled wanly. “But I was feeling very good, what can I say? Let’s just hope that my luck changes.
“I could see even during the week that I was going well, and I really wanted to do something here.”
Pozzato’s build-up to the Tour of Flanders had been marked by apparent tensions within the Katusha team, but the Italian was understandably reluctant to discuss them as he made his way gingerly to the team bus, his kit frayed from his earlier crash. “You’d have to ask [Andrei] Tchmil, not me,” he said.
With his classics campaign now at an end, Pozzato’s next race will be the Tour of Romandie at the end of the month, and his next major objective is the Giro d’Italia, where he took a fine stage win in 2010.
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Barry Ryan is Head of Features at Cyclingnews. He has covered professional cycling since 2010, reporting from the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and events from Argentina to Japan. His writing has appeared in The Independent, Procycling and Cycling Plus. He is the author of The Ascent: Sean Kelly, Stephen Roche and the Rise of Irish Cycling’s Golden Generation, published by Gill Books.