Pozzato puts a classics win in his 2014 crosshairs

"I want to win, not just place on the podium. I want to win a classic, Milano-Sanremo, the Flanders, or Paris-Roubaix," Pozzato said

SAN LUIS, Argentina (VN) — Filippo Pozzato trains to win. After a disappointing 2013, the Lampre-Merida rider wants to return to beat Peter Sagan (Cannondale), Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing), and Tom Boonen (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) in the monuments.

“I want to win, not just place on the podium. I want to win a classic, Milano-Sanremo, the Flanders, or Paris-Roubaix,” Pozzato told VeloNews. “The work and training that I do is for winning, not to place second.”

Pozzato won Trofeo Laigueglia, Coppa Agostoni and GP Plouay last year. For him, however, those races do not compare to the monuments.

No excuses

The curly-haired, tattooed rider from Veneto won Milano-Sanremo in 2006. He placed second in Paris-Roubaix in 2009 and second in Ronde van Vlaanderen (Tour of Flanders) in 2012. That year, he returned from a broken collarbone and surprised many with his performances.

In 2013, he did everything right but the classics went completely wrong.

“I started off well but then I got sick and didn’t do anything in the classics,” Pozzato said. “The people always expect a rider like me to be in the top in the classics. In the end, I won Laigueglia, Plouay, other races in Italy, but you have to take home a classic if you’re a rider like me. Plouay is important, beautiful, but it’s not a Flanders, Roubaix or Sanremo.”

He finished far away from the top: 33rd in Sanremo, 44th in Ronde and 22nd in Roubaix.

“I was bad off,” said Pozzato. “When I returned home I couldn’t understand why I went so badly so I had a blood exam and saw I had problems. I had a virus.

In the end, though, it’s useless to say these things because people will say that you are making up excuses. I didn’t tell anyone but the team knew why I was off.”

Forget the critics

“Pippo” trained for the first two weeks of 2014 in Santa Monica, California. He said that he would gladly move there if he could.

Along the coast, he rode long six- to seven-hour rides. Since last summer, he changed his training to include more hours on the saddle and different intensity work.

Today, he starts his season at the Tour de San Luis in Argentina. He gradually builds up to the monuments, Sanremo in late March and Flanders and Roubaix in early April. All without pressure, he said.

“I became a professional early [at age 19] and started to win right away. It busted my balls when people started criticizing me right away when I wasn’t winning,” Pozzato said. “If I was second, I didn’t win. If I was fourth, it was a bad race. It’s always been the same.

“The pressure doesn’t bother me. I put it on myself. I want to do well for myself. The others created problems for me when I was young, but now they don’t worry me. I want to go well for myself.”