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Pozzovivo to join NTT, Dunne to retire

Despite a career-threatening crash, the veteran Italian finds a future, while the peloton's tallest rider is retiring.

Two names in the peloton have defined their futures. Domenico Pozzovivo, the durable Italian veteran still recovering from a career-threatening crash, has penned a two-year deal to ride with NTT Pro Cycling while Conor Dunne, the popular 2018 Irish national champ, is retiring.

Dunne, 27, confirmed his retirement via a post on Instagram on Monday evening. At 6-foot-7, he was among the tallest riders to ever race professionally. After two seasons on the ill-fated Aqua Blue team, he raced for Israel Cycling Academy in 2019. Dunne’s lone victory was the 2018 Irish national title.

“Next year I’ll be hanging up the race wheels for good,” Dunne wrote. “Racing bikes was an adventure I’ll never forget, that I shared with so many incredible people. It’s hard to say goodbye to something that has motivated/driven me for so long but now felt like the right time to put my energy into a new challenge and I’m so excited about what comes next.”

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After the team collapsed in 2018, Dunne and former Aqua Blue teammate Larry Warbasse went on a long-running training camp in the Alps dubbed the “No-Go Tour” that caught on with social media. That kept them both in the spotlight, and helped them earn contracts for 2019.

Pozzovivo’s move to NTT is a salve for the Italian, who was struck by a car while training in southern Italy just a week before the start of the Vuelta a España. He suffered multiple fractures in his leg, upper and lower arms and collarbone, and underwent several surgeries and a long rehab process. The career-threatening crash came as Pozzovivo was coming off contract with Bahrain-Merida and his future was uncertain. His recovery has gone better than expected, however, and NTT (formerly Dimension Data) offered him a two-year deal.

“Already, since the long period of hospitalization and then with a hard physiotherapy job, I started to work tenaciously on my recovery,” Pozzovivo said. “My healing will continue in the next months and I’m confident that together with the team we will win this bet. I can’t wait to meet my teammates and the staff at the next training camp and then to come back to the races.”

Pozzovivo, 37, turned pro in 2005, and will add some heft to NTT’s relatively younger squad for 2020. He hasn’t set a comeback date, but he hopes to be able to race the Giro in May.

“We needed a climbing specialist with GC aspirations to complement the team we have assembled for 2020,” said team principal Douglas Ryder. “Domenico has been so consistent over the years, his experience will add huge value to the younger climbers in our team, and the true grit he has shown since his accident proves his passion and commitment to his own career and the sport of cycling.”

Pozzovivo is part of a major makeover for NTT for 2020. Five riders — Lars Bak, Mark Renshaw, Steve Cummings, Jaco Venter, and Jacques Janse Van Rensburg — retire from the 2019 squad, while Mark Cavendish and Scott Davies (Bahrain-McLaren), Tom-Jelte Slagter (B&B Hotels) and Julian Vermote (Cofidis) are among the departures.

Pozzovivo is among 11 new arrivals, also including Carlos Barbero (Movistar), Victor Campenaerts (Lotto-Soudal) and Max Walscheid (Sunweb).