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“There will also (Rigoberto) Uran (Cannondale - Garmin in 2016) who has already been on the podium. Alejandro Valverde changes the game with a big team like Movistar that will control the race. For my part, I aim for the podium.&...

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29.12.2015 @ 06:30 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Domenico Pozzovivo gave the entire cycling world a scare in May during the third stage of the Giro d’Italia. TV showed images of the Italian lying motionless on the road after a bad crash but luckily the effects were not as bad as initially feared. However, the crash had a big impact on his 2015 season and it continues to bother him as he recently had surgery on the nose and is still undergoing laser treatment. Nonethelss, he is ready for the 2016 season with plenty of ambition and a new challenge: a first participation in the Tour de France at 33 years of age.

                            

“This winter has been calmer than last year when I recovered from my injuries,” he told Cyclingpro.net in an interview, referring to the broken leg he sustained in the second half of the 2014 season. “This season has been very irregular. It started strangely in late January. After Australia (the Tour Down Under, ed.), I had to have surgery to remove the plates from my legs. And then there were some victories (a stage in the Tour of Catalonia and one at the Giro del Trentino after he had not won since 2012, ed.). The crash in the Giro has completely messed up the rest of my season.”

 

He has now set his sights on the 2016 season.

 

“My goals remain similar with a first part of the season that include Tirreno Adriatico and the Tour of Catalonia as goals,” he said. “Then I will try to do even better in Liège - Bastogne - Liège (he finished fifth in 2014 and eighth this year, his only two participations, ed.). My main goals remain the grand tours, with the Giro and, for the first time, the Tour de France.”

 

Pozzovivo is used to being a team leader in the three-week races but in France he is expected to play a support role for Romain Bardet.

 

“It will be my first and it will be just after the Giro,” he said. “It is a real question mark. I think I will mainly be aiming for stages but we will also look at the opportunities for the GC along the way.”

 

Pozzovivo is known as a stage race rider but his results in Liege have made him fall in love with the classics. 

 

“Yes, and the Tour of Lombardy too,” he said when asked about his one-day goals. “But Liège is the one that seems most appropriate to my qualities.”

 

However, Liege has been a blocked race in recent years which makes it hard for a rider like Pozzovivo to win. Nonetheless, he still believes that it’s possible.

 

“I think anything is possible on the Cote-de-la-Roche-aux-Faucons where I've tried from afar in the past. But you can’t end up alone. If you end up with four or five riders, it is possible to go to the finish.”

 

It's been a while since a rider has managed to win both Liege and the Giro. The last rider to do so was Danilo Di Luca in 2007.

 

“I do not think it's incompatible,” Pozzovivo said. “You can have good shape in early April and at Liege which can then improve with altitude training before the Giro. We must also remember that the first part of this Giro is easier this year than last year.”

 

After Liege, Pozzovivo will share leadership with Jean-Christophe Péraud at the Giro.

 

“I think the beginning of the Giro is easier than last year,” he repeated. “Especially the last part will make the difference. But there will be two key moments with the mountain time trial and the time trial in Chianti which has lots of climbs and descents. We leave with Jean-Christophe and me as leaders at the same level. Fitness and the race will decide the rest. We raced together last year at Tirreno Adriatico and we both ended in the top 6 (Péraud fourth and Pozzovivo sixth, ed.) We also did the Tour de l'Ain together this year. It is no problem for us to race together and share leadership.”

 

Unsurprisingly, Pozzovivo points to Vincenzo Nibali as the big favourite.

 

“There will also (Rigoberto) Uran (Cannondale - Garmin in 2016) who has already been on the podium,” he said. “Alejandro Valverde changes the game with a big team like Movistar that will control the race. For my part, I aim for the podium.”

 

Pozzovivo is now 33 years old but is clearly still making progress. However, he doesn’t expect himself to ever become a grand tour winner.

 

“Winning would be really hard, especially with the younger generation with (Fabio) Aru (Astana) and Nairo Quintana (Movistar),” he said. “They will be hard to beat in the future and at the same time Chris Froome (Team Sky) and Nibali are still the favorites for upcoming grand tours. Knowing that I've done a top 5 (the 2014 Giro, ed.) in my career, I prefer to aim for a podium rather than dreaming of an improbable but not impossible victory.”

 

With his new love for the classics, Pozzovivo could be a candidate for the Olympics whose road race has a very mountainous course.

 

“Aru and Nibali will be the leaders,” he said. “I hope to be included in the Italian selection. Alexis Vuillermoz and Romain Bardet have seen the route and tell me it is a very difficult course that should be well suited to me. It is a distance that I like.”

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