Filippo Pozzato interview before Tour of Qatar
Filippo Pozzato makes his season debut in his new team colors at Katusha this weekend at the Tour of Qatar a very different rider than he was one year ago. Pozzato knows where his strengths lie and he’s not pushing the panic button despite last year’s tribulations. The spring classics remain his focus and obsession.
After his debut in Qatar, he’ll race the Ruta del Sol, Trofeo Laigueglia, Het Volk (now Het Nieuwsblad), Monte Paschi Eroica, Tirreno-Adriatico and Milan-San Remo before diving into the north classics.
“I am a rider for the classics – that’s not going to change. I value the other races and victories, but I am born to race the classics. I don’t have the build to race day-in and day-out to be a GC rider for a grand tour. I cannot beat the best sprinters every time, but I can win classics.”
Pozzato said the history, prestige, difficulty and intense competition of the one-day classics are what’s most alluring about racing.
“When I was young, those were the races that I dreamed about winning. When I won Milan-San Remo in 2006, it was a dream come true. To win was just incredible. I want to have that feeling again.”
Katusha will bring a strong group with Pozzato, Sergey Ivanov and Gert Steegmans to lead and an army of Russian workers to support.
With the dramatic 2006 San Remo win in his pocket, he’s hoping to pop for something even bigger this year on the cobblestones of northern France and Belgium.
He was twice second in stages at Tirreno-Adriatico and entered Milan-San Remo confident of another win, but the barnstorming Fabian Cancellara attacked in the final kilometer to surprise the pack. Pozzato was second.
“I’ve already won San Remo nearly three years ago, so now it’s time to look forward to new victories. Of course, I want to win Flanders and Roubaix. At those races, when you’re the strongest that day, you win. At San Remo, there can still be 20 guys who can win in the sprint.”
That’s not to say that Pozzato wouldn’t welcome a second San Remo title, it’s just that the allure and challenge of the northern classics is more enticing.
“What’s harder to achieve, better the prize. Technically, I would say Flanders is better for me than Roubaix. Due to history, Roubaix is considered more important. Both races are very significant.”
Right now, just about any major win would be fine for Pozzato. In his book, he’s long overdue.