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Pozzato calm and cool ahead of classics storm

NARNI SCALO, Italy (VN) — Filippo Pozzato (Lampre-Merida) looks bright and cheery in his new team colors — blue, pink, and green — but he is cold and serious ahead of an important classics campaign.

After last year when he raced in a second division team and broke his collarbone, he has the chance to bounce back and win another big classic — one of the monuments like Milano-Sanremo, Ronde Van Vlaanderen, or Paris-Roubaix.

The preparations started over the winter, in early November. He raced in Argentina, Spain, and Belgium. He continues in the seventh and final stage of Tirreno-Adriatico Tuesday, a seven-day race that cuts through central Italy.

The weather, however, leaves little to smile about.

“Besides this crap weather,” Pozzato told VeloNews, “I’m doing very well.”

After what looked like would be dry start, clouds rolled in and unleashed rain showers on the peloton and a brightly colored Pozzato for the stage 3 journey to Narni Scalo in Umbria. It was the third consecutive day of rain.

Pozzato, 31-year-old from Veneto, did not seem to mind too much. He appears more focused on the classics than ever. There is every reason to believe he has a chance to win another big one again this year.

Last year, just weeks after breaking his collarbone in the Tour of Qatar, Pozzato placed third in Ronde (the Tour of Flanders). And before abandoning Paris-Roubaix, he was at the sharp end to see Boonen’s attack.

“Knock on wood,” he said, responding to how well it has gone for him so far this year. “Let’s hope it continues like this.”

Last weekend, Pozzato kicked and (thought) he won the one-day Roma Maxima. It was embarrassing, but he said that it gave him confidence that he is on target.

Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) is behind after suffering an elbow injury. Fabian Cancellara (RadioShack-Leopard) does not look as brilliant as normal. Only Peter Sagan (Cannondale) appears to be a top favorite, but he lacks experience.

Pozzato stands in a good position.

“Tom is a little bit behind, but you can bet that when Flanders and Roubaix rolls around he’s going to be there and be ready,” Pozzato said.

“I think Fabian is going really well and Sagan, of course, we can’t under-evaluate him. Last year, he just missed out and placed fourth in Ronde. He’s really going strongly. The only thing to see is how he manages the pressure that’s being put on his shoulders.”

Back in the big leagues

After years in the first division, Pozzato raced with second-division Italian team, Vini Farnese last year. It was a step down after poor performances with team Katusha.

Notwithstanding his Michele Ferrari connection and subsequent suspension, he showing the spark that helped him win Milano-San Remo and E3 Harelbeke in the past. It helps having a first-division team behind him because with that ProTeam status comes automatic invites to all the UCI WorldTour races, including the three grand tours.

“With that chance, I’m able to make decisions and plan my season accordingly,” Pozzato said. “I’m planning on riding the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España. The ability to do both of those is a good thing for the one-day races and world championships.”

The whistle blows, signaling Pozzato and the other Tirreno riders it’s time to face the damp roads to Narni Scalo. Pozzato grins; he is heading in a good direction.

“I’m good,” Pozzato said. “It’s just important to get to the classics in good shape.”