MILAN (VN) — Filippo Pozzato’s road to the Ronde van Vlaanderen and Paris-Roubaix begins with the Rotterdam Six-Day this season. The Italian of team Southeast-Venezuela, for the first time in six years, is racing a six-day this week to give him the kick he needs for the classics.
Pozzato is paired with Dutchman Jens Mouris (Drapac) for the six nights of racing before flying to Argentina and the start of his road season at the Tour de San Luis.
“I wanted to do it over the last three years, but the team would not let me,” Pozzato told VeloNews while on the massage table. “It helps me get that extra cadence and explosion that I need on the road. It’s a decision that’s aimed at racing the classics.”
Pozzato’s classics record is impressive if not yet complete. He counts wins at Milano-Sanremo, Omloop Het Volk (now known as Omloop Het Nieuwsblad), and E3 Harelbeke, but still wants to transform second places in the Ronde and Paris-Roubaix into victories.
After racing the last three years with Lampre-Merida without much to show except for a win in GP Ouest France-Plouay, his new team Southeast-Venezuela said that Pozzato still has the ability to win one of the big classics. He raced for Angelo Citracca’s team in 2012 when it went by Farnese Vini and, after breaking his collarbone in February at the Tour of Qatar, placed sixth in Sanremo, ninth in Gent-Wevelgem, second in the Ronde behind Tom Boonen.
When he signed a two-year contract with Citracca last month, he told his new boss that he wanted to have the freedom to race a six-day ahead of the 2016 season.
“I’m not coming here for the money, but to train and get the intensity I need. Sure, I told the Rotterdam organizer my price, what I wanted, but my mind was more on what I needed to achieve to be ready for the classics,” Pozzato added.
“Lampre did not say no because it was dangerous, but because the six-day races often clashed with training camps. That’s the problem now with many top professionals versus the ’70s and ’80s when six-day racing was huge. Still, you get guys like Elia Viviani, Mark Cavendish, and Bradley Wiggins on the track. It’d be good to get more and more pros racing six days like there was in the past.”
Pozzato may have a longer palmares on the road, but he lacks the skill and speed of his track colleagues. To be ready, he spent seven days training on a velodrome in northern Italy with Viviani and former professional Marco Villa. They helped Pozzato practice the hand-slings that one uses to bring a teammate into the race during the Madison.
“It’s not a slaughter, but at the end of the first days, I was tired, for sure. I wasn’t used to the rhythm that the guys are going here,” Pozzato added. “Ideally, I’d race two of these in the winter like Niki Terpstra [the 2014 Roubaix winner] to be ready for the classics. Still, it is amazing to race at the Ahoy center in the middle of the thousands of fans that fill the arena each night.”
Southeast-Venezuela races with a Professional Continental license, so it remains unsure if it will receive an invitation to participate in the Ronde and Paris-Roubaix. Pozzato is planning to be ready regardless. After the track, he races on the road in San Luis, the Trofeo Laigueglia, the Ruta del Sol, and the classics Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne.