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Pozzato brings more than hopes of victory to Southeast

Filippo Pozzato remains a big draw for Italian fans, and if he can resume his winning ways, so much the better, says new team Southeast

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MILAN (VN) — Filippo Pozzato still has it in him to win one of cycling’s big one-day monuments, says his new team Southeast. The winner of Milano-Sanremo and runner-up in both the Ronde van Vlaanderen and Paris-Roubaix ended months of speculation linking him to the Italian team on Friday when he signed a two-year contract.

Pozzato will lead the team in the monuments assuming the invitations come through as expected. The Professional Continental team should get the green light for Sanremo and the Ronde, and stands a good chance for Roubaix as well, given Pozzato’s second place in 2009 behind Tom Boonen.

“Filippo is still 34 years old, cyclists his age and older are still winning classics, so I don’t think it is a problem,” Southeast general manager Angelo Citracca told VeloNews.

“We are going to take him to those races, he can still win a Flanders or Roubaix. Filippo has it him.”

Pozzato won Sanremo in 2006 when he was racing for Quick-Step-Innergetic. However, he recorded some of his best results in 2012 when racing for Citracca’s team, then with Farnese Vini as the title sponsor. “Pippo” Pozzato placed sixth in Sanremo, ninth in Gent-Wevelgem, and second in the Ronde — again behind Boonen — after breaking his collarbone in February at the Tour of Qatar.

He spent a quiet three years with Lampre. The first year of his contract went well, with wins in the Trofeo Laigueglia, Coppa Agostoni and the GP Ouest France-Plouay, but after that he went flat. In fact, Plouay, more than two years ago, was the last tick on his list of wins.

But his value to the team is not based solely on victories, said Citracca.

“It’s more than just wins, if we have to be honest. After Vincenzo Nibali and Fabio Aru, grand-tour winners, Filippo is number one in terms of media attention in Italy,” he said.

“To be honest, having him in the team is worth the extra money it took to reach a contract deal because he brings us attention like none other.”

Southeast won the Italian Cup series in 2015, and thus will be first in line when RCS Sport hands out the four wildcard invitations for its 2016 Giro d’Italia. The same organizer will give places to its Milano-Sanremo, slated for March 19, in January. Southeast will look to Flanders Classics and ASO for places in the Ronde and Paris-Roubaix, respectively.

“Did I take a step backwards signing for a Professional Continental team? I don’t think so,” Pozzato told the newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport.

“What’s important is to participate in the races that I’m interested in, and in that sense, we are faithful.”

Pozzato begins his season in the Tour de San Luis, but in the blue-and-white colors of Team Italy. He will debut in Southeast’s kit, which Citracca said will include a second title sponsor, at the Challenge Mallorca on January 28. Afterward, he should head towards Tirreno-Adriatico, Sanremo, and the northern classics.