Pozzato poised to join Southeast for 2016

The sometimes-brilliant Filippo Pozzato is likely to join second-tier Southeast for the 2016 season after three sub-par seasons with Lampre-Merida

Filippo Pozzato looks closer to joining Italian second-division team Southeast for 2016.

The 34-year-old veteran, off contract after three winless seasons at Lampre-Merida, has finalized a deal with the Italian Professional Continental team for next season.

La Gazzetta dello Sport reported a verbal agreement has been reached that also includes Pozzato bringing on a co-sponsor. The deal will be announced shortly, with La Gazzetta quoting Pozzato’s agent, “There is an agreement, and we will make it official once it’s signed.”

Pozzato previously spent one season with the Italian outfit in 2012 — then racing as Farnese Vini-Selle Italia — before linking up with what ended up being an unhappy marriage at Lampre-Merida.

The news squashes reports that Pozzato was poised to join Tinkoff-Saxo to ride as road captain and helper for world champion Peter Sagan during the 2016 spring classics campaign.

The sometimes-brilliant Pozzato has not won a race since 2013, and often ran afoul of Lampre-Merida management, which questioned his work ethic and motivation.

Pozzato will need to confirm his worth to his new bosses. Winless in 2014 and 2015, he rode quietly through the spring classics this year, with 12th at Tour of Flanders and 65th at Paris-Roubaix.

The flamboyant Pozzato was once one of Italy’s top riders, winning Milano-Sanremo (2006), Tirreno-Adriatico (2003), the Italian national championship, and stages at the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia.

After racing with Mapei, Quick Step, Liquigas, and Fassa Bortolo, he joined upstart Katusha on a big-money, three-year contract in 2009.