ROUBAIX, France (VN) — Filippo Pozzato (Farnese Vini-Selle Italia) abandoned Paris-Roubaix in frustration Sunday after watching Tom Boonen’s winning move ride free.
“He thought he could pull it back,” the team’s sports director, Luca Scinto told VeloNews. “Going free 60 kilometers out was something you’d only see [Franco] Ballerini or [Andrea] Tafi do. Those were other times.”
The Italian fought Boonen until the end in the Tour of Flanders last week and was billed as his strongest rival for Paris-Roubaix. Fans were surprised today to see him watch Boonen and Omega Pharma-Quick Step teammate Niki Terpstra ride free with 56 kilometers to go.
Boonen took the race into his own hands one kilometer later, riding free from Terpstra on the Auchy-lez-Orchies cobbled sector. Behind, Pozzato, Alessandro Ballan (BMC Racing) and Sébastien Turgot (Europcar) looked at each other. The gap quickly jumped to 30 seconds and only Team Sky seemed to care.
Last week, Pozzato nearly left behind Boonen on the Paterberg climb, 15 kilometers from the finish at Flanders. Was he not as brilliant this time around?
“Absolutely not,” Scinto said. “On the pave, when Boonen was pushing the pace, it was always Pippo who could easily follow.”
Pozzato crashed shortly after Boonen attacked, at 50.8km to race, and abandoned 20km later. At the bus, the team said that he was too frustrated to speak.
Scinto looked to the heavens to find answers.
“He is very disappointed. We’re all angry and disappointed because we rode in a strong way but we were unlucky,” Scinto said, looking to the sky. “Maybe someone doesn’t want us to win. I don’t know who.”
Pozzato switched to the second division Farnese Vini team over the winter after his first 12 years at the top level of the sport. It was a gamble as the team needed wildcard invitations to attend the biggest races. They received the invites they needed to fill out the Italian’s spring schedule, including to Flanders, Roubaix and next Sunday’s Amstel Gold Race.
Bad luck struck, though, when Pozzato fell and fractured his collarbone in the fifth leg of the Tour of Qatar. Instead of waiting for it to heal fully, he returned immediately, nine days later in Trofeo Laigueglia. He kept his fitness level high, which helped him score a string of top-10 finishes through the semi-classics and classics in Belgium. In France, though, things didn’t go well.
“He discussed it a little bit with Ballan when the other two went away. However, there were still 60 kilometers to the finish and you’d never think that a person could do such a ‘numero,'” Scinto continued.
“Pozzato kept calm and believed that after falling down that he could chase back. I don’t know if he could’ve reached him and how it could’ve finished, but of course, he was the only one who could take on Boonen.”