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Pozzato crash perils his classics season

Filippo Pozzato broke his collarbone in a crash Thursday at the Tour of Qatar that could cost him a chance at the spring classics.

The Farnese-Vini rider fell early in Thursday’s fifth stage and was later expected to return to Italy for likely surgery.

The crash comes at a bad time for Pozzato, who is trying to regain his footing after three sub-par seasons with Katusha. Now 31, Pozzato moved to Farnese Vini with hopes of reviving his fortunes.

The second-division team had earned bids to start some important races this season, including Gent-Wevelgem, the Tour of Flanders, Tirreno-Adriatico and Milan-San Remo, races that Pozzato was expected to be a protagonist.

Team officials said it was still too early to know how long Pozzato would be sidelined, but missing a critical training window at this stage of the season will not be ideal coming into the demands of the one-day classics.