MILAN (VN) — ‘Pippo’ and ‘The Saganator’ on the same Tinkoff-Saxo team for 2016? If negotiations go well, Italian Filippo Pozzato could make the switch from Lampre-Merida at the end of the season to support Peter Sagan.
Belgium’s Het Nieuwsblad newspaper reported Friday morning that the deal is done, that the 33-year-old — 12th in this year’s Ronde van Vlaanderen and winner of the 2006 Milano-Sanremo — signed with Russian owner Oleg Tinkov for one year with an option to extend into 2017.
“I don’t know,” Pozzato told VeloNews. “My agent is handling all of it, and I’ll evaluate the offers when he’s done.”
Pozzato won Milano-Sanremo and stages in the Tour de France. He placed second in the Ronde and second in Paris-Roubaix since turning professional at 19 years old in 2000.
For the last three years, he raced for Italy’s WorldTour team, Lampre.
“It’s difficult that he will stay with Lampre,” Pozzato’s agent, Alex Carera told VeloNews.
“Right now, we are talking with different teams, including Tinkoff, but no decision is made yet.”
Pozzato wants to close out 2015 first, possibly racing the Vattenfall Cyclassics, the GP Ouest France-Plouay, the GP Québec, and the GP Montréal. Carera could find him a team in the meantime.
“Right now, we are only talking to WorldTour teams, teams that need a big helper for a big leader,” Carera added.
“Why Tinkoff? He’d like to help Sagan, who he sees as a huge star in the northern classics.”
Sagan won the green jersey in four consecutive editions of the Tour de France, including the one that just rolled to a stop in Paris two weeks ago.
He has yet to pull through with a one-day monument win, but has come close. He placed top five in Milano-Sanremo and the Ronde three times, including second in both races in 2013. In 2014, he placed sixth in Paris-Roubaix.
The Italian’s time with Lampre could end on a bad note. Lampre team manager, Brent Copeland appeared ready to call it quits already last year.
“His attitude towards the team isn’t good,” Copeland told Tutto Bici. “He is not respectful of his teammates and the team’s internal rules. He cannot wear his own shoes at will, while all the other use shoes with the team’s colors
“We do not really need prima donnas, we just want racers who act professionally and show their talent. And ‘Pippo’ doesn’t lack talent.”
A new team and a new challenge, helping Sagan win a monument, could be what Pozzato needs to utilize his talent to its fullest.