SALSOMAGGIORE TERME, Italy (VN) — Domenico Pozzovivo and his Ag2r La Mondiale teammates are causing concern at the Giro d’Italia. Since earlier this spring, the 5-foot-5 rider from southern Italy has been rising like a rocket. He now sits fourth overall in the GC standings.
“There are three or four cyclists who will be close to winning this Giro d’Italia,” he told VeloNews. “You can’t say for sure, but I think that I’m one of those who can battle to win.”
Pozzovivo attacked repeatedly in Liège-Bastogne-Liège and placed fifth, and also recorded top-10 finishes at Giro del Trentino (second), Roma Maxima (fifth), Tirreno-Adriatico (sixth), Tour of Oman (sixth), Volta a Catalunya (eighth), and Tour de San Luis (10th).
In the Giro, especially last weekend, he has done the same thing. He had his French team take control en route to Montecopiolo in Saturday’s stage 8. He finished seventh. The next day, he attacked the main group with leader Cadel Evans (BMC Racing) on the hardest part of the Passo del Lupo above Sestola. He left the group, gained 26 seconds, and placed third behind the two-man break.
“I let him gain some time,” Evans said of Pozzovivo. “Now, though, I’m going to be keeping a closer eye on him. He has been going strongly and his team is riding well, we’ve seen that over the weekend’s stages.”
The rider from Basilicata, the region in the arch between Italy’s heel and toe in the south, was 1:31 behind Evans through 10 stages. Rigoberto Urán (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) is 57 seconds back in second and Rafal Majka (Tinkoff-Saxo) is 1:10 behind in third.
“I’ve been going well, yes, but I wasn’t going badly last year, either. Due to a crash in the Giro del Trentino, though, I wasn’t able to express myself as much as I wanted to in last year’s Giro,” Pozzovivo said.
“Already at the Vuelta a España, though, I showed that I improved a lot from the year before with a sixth overall [in 2013]. Anyway, I think it’s because I’m continuing to race at this high level, in WorldTour races — that’s helped me mature, also in the tactical sense.”
Pozzovivo has raced professionally since 2005, with Ceramica Panaria, CSF and Colnago. His stage win in Lago Laceno at the 2012 Giro d’Italia helped him earn a contract with Ag2r for 2013.
“Like all of the big changes, at the start of last year, I had more difficulties than I’d normally have, but afterwards, it wasn’t so bad,” he said.
“Already at the start of the season you could see that we were more compact. When there’s a leader, we support him well. Also at the classics, at Liège and here at the Giro, we are doing well as a team.”
Tuesday’s stage finished in Salsomaggiore Terme, where Pozzovivo finished safely in the main pack. His preferred stages are the high mountains, where his light build will allow him to float up the climbs.
“What do I lack? We’ll see in the last week,” Pozzovivo said. “In the long stages, I’m fine and in the time trial to Barolo on Thursday, I can defend myself well. I hope my condition allows me to continue like this until the end of the Giro d’Italia.”