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Pozzato retires after 19 years in the peloton

The Italian won 33 races, including Milano-Sanremo and three grand tour stages.

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Italian cycling saw the retirement of one of its most flamboyant riders in Filippo Pozzato (Wilier Triestina-Selle Italia) Tuesday, bringing an end to a lengthy career in the professional ranks.

Rumors had been churning that the high-flying Pozzato was going to call curtains on his 19-year career. He confirmed the news in a Facebook post.

“I am writing the conclusion of the most fun and intense period of my life,” Pozzato said. “My dreams of a child were realized, but now it ends maybe not as I would have liked but as a man I accept it.”

The 37-year-old was part of Mapei’s fabled recruitment class that also included Fabian Cancellara and Michael Rogers, a group that entered the peloton in 2000. Pozzato won 33 races in his career, including the 2006 Milano-Sanremo and stages in the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France. By his own admission, Pozzato never quite fulfilled expectations. His final victory came at the GP Ouest-France in 2013.

“I still managed to realize some of my dreams, like Sanremo in 2006,” Pozzato said. “The last few years haven’t been easy. I always tried to get the most out of it, but eventually I had to surrender.”

Pozzato was among the last of the Italians who thrived on the pavé of Belgian from the 1990s. Runner-up in such races as Paris-Roubaix and Tour of Flanders, he won at Omloop Het Volk and E3 Harelbeke but was the nearly man in the northern monuments.

After Mapei disbanded in 2002, Pozzato bounced from team to team, riding with Fassa Bortolo, Quick-Step, Liquigas and Katusha. He rode his last season in the WorldTour with Lampre in 2015, and finished out his career with three seasons with Pro Continental team Wilier Triestina-Selle Italia. He received a three-month ban in 2012 after admitting he worked with Michele Ferrari in 2006.

In many ways, Pozzato was the last of the charismatic and flamboyant stars who lit up the Italian peloton. Along with the retirement this summer of Damiano Cunego, Italian cycling can count on Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) and some promising new talent coming up.

The death of his father this summer marked him, and when top invitations didn’t come this season to race the northern classics, Pozzato knew time was running out.

In retirement he said he will work closely with a Continental team that he’s backing.

“The curtain comes down without making too much noise as I would have liked,” he wrote. “Now a new life begins, with so many projects I am working on. I’m building a Continental team which I hope to see many young cyclists realize their dreams and take me along with them.”