COMPIÈGNE, France (VN) — Filippo Pozzato returned from Monaco, put the Tour of Flanders behind him and set his sights on Paris-Roubaix tomorrow.
Team Farnese Vini’s leader explained, “Sunday’s a new game.”
Pozzato just finished a massage and took a break from updating his Twitter account. Fiddling with his two iPhone 4s, he reflected on last weekend’s game: Flanders. He came close to matching his 2006 Milan-San Remo win, but fell short in the sprint against Tom Boonen (OmegaPharma-Quick Step).
“Maaaa, no!” he said when asked if he wastes too much of his energy in social media. After all, he faces a race of 257.5 kilometers, nicknamed ‘The Hell of the North,’ on Sunday.
He has been fighting back since he broke his collarbone in the Tour of Qatar in February. He and the team made the risky decision to race immediately, just nine days later when the stitches were still fresh from surgery. The gamble paid off with a string of top-ten places in the classics at the end of March and on April 1, runner-up in Flanders.
Over the winter, he switched to the second-division Farnese team after a dismal run with Team Katusha. Despite winning San Remo and a couple of Tour stages, the Italian press says he has failed to live up to his potential. Pozzato, though, is not stressed about winning.
“No, not at all,” he explained. “I’m happy to be here. When I was in the hospital, I didn’t even think I’d be at the classics. There’s no need to be stressed, I’ve battled until the end in these races.”
Boonen is the top favorite after a successful classics campaign, but he keeps a close eye on Pozzato. He knows him well. He remembers when the two first met after the 1998 Junior Worlds in a disco and when he was allowed to drive Pozzato’s Ferrari. The two then raced together for two years in Quick Step, from 2005 to 2006.
“Pozzato surprised me this year, he came back after the fractured collarbone,” Boonen explained. “It shows he was working very hard in the winter. From San Remo up until this point, he’s been on fire.”
“It’s due to the good work I’ve done in the winter with [sports director] Luca Scinto,” added Pozzato. “Secondly, since this winter, I’ve had a strong determination to show myself.”
Boonen proved unstoppable in the sprints in these last races and infallible on the cobbles. Pozzato previewed the final critical 80 kilometers yesterday morning. He said that he plans to let the cobbles sort out the favorites and then deal with Boonen.
“Tom is fast, but he’s not unbeatable,” he said. “He’s human like us. You can beat him in a sprint, but it’s clear that you need to try to drop him. If I have the legs, I will try to drop him; if not, I will try in the sprint.”