You don’t get much more old-school than Domenico Pozzovivo.
At 39 years of age, Pozzovivo hails from an age of super-skinny tires and pasta-laden breakfasts largely unknown to a youthful, fresh-faced peloton.
But that’s not stopping Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert’s GC captain from riding high in his 16th Giro d’Italia and defying the millennial rise.
“I think he can go far. The parcours suits him and he’s in good shape. And you know ‘Pozzo,’ after this long, he knows this race perfectly,” team director Aike Visbeek told VeloNews.
Pozzovivo is one of the surprise packages at the top of GC as the Giro heads toward its endgame. At seventh overall and 54 seconds back after Friday’s 13th stage, “Pozzo” is poised at the pointy end of a tightly knotted GC pack and climbing with the best.
“Pozzo’s level is high and he’s come through the first weeks well,” Visbeek said in a call. “The last week is very hard, but if he can manage any bad days then I think he could be very close to top-five.”
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Eighteen years after making his Giro debut, Pozzovivo could be on track to better his career-best fifth-place finish at his home grand tour.
Standing in his way are riders more than 10 years his junior.
“Nineties babies” Richard Carapaz, João Almeida, Jai Hindley, Juanpe López and Guillaume Martin bring lungs and legs far fresher than those powering Pozzovivo. But playing elder statesman of the GC pack ain’t all bad.
“His experience with the parcours, race logic, and what to expect is so helpful for him and the whole team. He’s always very prepared, that adds value to meetings,” Visbeek said. “He’s really focussed and he knows what he needs to after all this time. We don’t need to add extra focus or attention on him at all.”
Pozzovivo stands stubbornly against the millennial wave and rapid progression in pro cycling in more ways than one.
With the rise of Tadej Pogačar, Remco Evenepoel and Egan Bernal came fatter tires, lower running pressures, and increasingly dialed nutrition protocol that leave Pozzovivo puzzled.
“He’s not the most up-to-date guy with nutrition, tech, tire pressures. Domenico’s experience sometimes plays against him in that he’s not so on top of the way we do things now,” Visbeek said.
“It’s the other way around there, he’s learning from us rather than us learning from him. The good thing is that he listens, he wants to learn, even though some of these things seem strange to him at first.”
Experience counts in upcoming Alpine assault
Twice finishing fifth, and four more times in the top-10 of GC makes Pozzovivo as much a staple of recent Giri as the pink jersey and podium prosecco.
Like fellow high-flying GC veterans Vincenzo Nibali and Alejandro Valverde or superdomestique Richie Porte, Pozzovivo is a reminder that experience can count just as much as watts and VO2 Max in the fine-tuned world of the 2022 WorldTour.
Also read: Is this year’s race the Giro di Veterani?
And so it’s apt that Pozzovivo and Co. are making hay in the most old-school grand tour of them all.
This Giro’s long transitional stages and brutally backloaded parcours is throw back to the age of Giuseppe Saronni, Francesco Moser and beyond.
So, can the knock-kneed and pain-riddled Pozzovivo hit a career-high when the race rumbles in to Verona?
A top-four finish in a closing phase riddled with ambush stages and Alpine attrition is going to make life tough for the old-timer.
“We’ve seen in the past he can have one bad day. He’s quite a vulnerable rider. He crashes a lot, he’s small, he’s not the best descender. I don’t want to shout from the rooftops we’ll get top-five, but the aim is top-10,” Visbeek said. “We’ll have to manage any bad days he has as well as we can.”
Navigating the perils of an all-Alpine third week will need both resilience and racecraft. The overall classification has already lost Simon Yates and Miguel Ángel López to injury and Romain Bardet to sickness.
Pozzo will need every day of his 18-year experience – and an occasional bowing to new-fangled science-based cycling – if he’s to score high in Giro number 16.
“This is a team without pressure. We think it’s the perfect surrounding for him to be an outsider and walk away with a good top-10 spot at least. And who knows, if we plan things right and the race works out, even a top-five,” Visbeek said.