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After he retires, FIlippo Pozzato plans to start...

‘Italy deserves it:’ Pozzato plans to build a pro team

Filippo Pozzato wants to get back to winning in the twilight of his career, and he looks ahead to forming his own Italian team.

SAN JUAN, Argentina (VN) — Filippo Pozzato knows how to ride in style, from the flashy Team Wilier Triestina-Selle Italia bike, to the tattoos, to the always updated Instagram account. That is how he wants to sign off his professional career and start the next chapter, building a new Italian team.

The Italian is conscious of his place in Italian cycling, cheered loudly by the tifosi, but carrying palmarès in need of an update. He knows it has been over four years since his last win.

Perhaps the missed opportunities in the cobbled classics bother him. In 2009, he stood second on the podium in Paris-Roubaix. In 2016, he was third in the Italian national championships — so many results that could have been jewels in the 36-year-old’s treasure chest.

“For sure, the goal in 2018 is to return and win since it’s been three or four years since I’ve won. For sure, I am sorry about that,” Pozzato told VeloNews.

“Even in the last years, I was always there in the first two or three, but never able to pull off a victory.

“I’m not bitter about it. Some victories have slipped by a matter of centimeters. My level has been good as those in the top five, but maybe that something was missing. It was just good to be there and present. I was never pissed off, upset. I always keep a smile.”

Pozzato rolled around on his Wilier bicycle for the start of the final stage of the Vuelta a San Juan in Argentina. The stage race kicked off his 2018 season, his 19th as a professional.

He won the 2006 Milano-Sanremo racing for Quick-Step. He raced for Mapei, Fassa Bortolo, Liquigas, Katusha and Lampre — nearly every team in cycling’s spectrum.

After it ends, he will not turn his back on the two-wheeled sport. He is in too deep to do so. He has too many friends within the sport to just say “ciao.”

Pozzato considered work as an agent and has helped barter some deals for his friends, but wants to start a team and take it to the top with all the Pozzato touches.

“Why not?” Pozzato said.

“Pozzato version 2.0, that’s it. A new team, something to wave the Italian flag. That’s what I want to work on. Starting well with a small team and pushing the team to the top level. Italy deserves it.

“You need to find the sponsors, working hard for that, as soon as I’m free of training and trying to win another race — yeah, it’s been some time — I’ll work on it. If the sponsors are there, I’ll kick it off.”

In the meantime, cycling has ‘Pippo’ mania. Italy watches Fabio Aru (UAE Team Emirates), Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida), and Elia Viviani (Quick-Step Floors) rise higher, but fans seemly yell with greater enthusiasm when Pozzato passes or attacks.

This season, they’ll again have chances to cheer. His Professional Continental team earned invitations to Tirreno-Adriatico, Milano-Sanremo, and the Giro d’Italia. Pozzato should race all three.

“It’s not changed. I’m a good flag bearer for our international image, Italy abroad. We have Viviani and Nibali, and I’m happy that they are bringing in another generation,” continued Pozzato.

“I’d like to do a very, very good Sanremo. This year, there’s the chance to arrive to Sanremo in good condition since in the last two years we weren’t invited to Tirreno-Adriatico. This is the goal, win again and then, yeah, let’s get the team going.”