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Domenico Pozzovivo only signed with Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux in February of this year, and now, almost four months later, the 39-year-old has finished eighth overall at the Giro d’Italia, the oldest man to do so since 1924.
Domenico Pozzovivo (39) becomes the oldest rider since Giovanni Rossignoli in 1924 to finish top 10 at the Giro d’Italia.— CafeRoubaix (@CafeRoubaix) May 29, 2022
It was no easy feat. WorldTeam though they are, Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux has yet to shake off underdog status. Pozzovivo and his teammates had more than their fair share of bad luck across these past three weeks, but on Sunday evening, the Belgian outfit had two riders in the top 10 and as many stage wins to their name.
The first of their stage wins came via Eritrean superstar, and youngest stage winner of the race, Biniam Girmay who out-sprinted Mathieu van der Poel on stage 10.
Veteran climber Pozzovivo had appeared out of nowhere to offer his young teammate the unlikeliest of lead-outs, and from there, the Italian had a few very good days. He and teammate Hirt were among the select few not dropped by Bora-Hansgrohe on stage 14, and though he couldn’t follow the decisive move, the 39-year-old was the best of the rest in fifth, which moved him up to the same position overall.
He met his old friend Misfortune on stage 16, crashing on the technical descent off the Mortirolo and losing almost three minutes. Hirt’s victory on the same stage will have acted as a salve of sorts, but Pozzovivo’s injuries continued to trouble him in the coming days.
“I was a bit unlucky in that moment, but my career is a bit like that,” said Pozzovivo at the end of stage 16, referring to a near life-altering incident in 2019. After being hit head-on by a driver, the Italian went through 16 operations to fix “around 20” broken bones. The recovery was long, and the Italian was left with persistent back pain and a slightly buckled left arm and leg, visibly altering his position on the bike.
“This is encouraging for me, because the past five years I have really struggled with some problems that almost cost me my career,” Pozzovivo told media after climbing to sixth on Blockhaus. “I was able to overcome those problems, and now I am looking optimistically into the final week.
“The final week is the hardest of this Giro, but I am hoping if I have the same legs, I can count on my experience to do something important in this Giro.”
Pozzovivo’s last week ended up being one of grinning and bearing it, but if there’s one thing he knows, it’s how to do just that.
2 years ago, he suffered an accident that required 16 surgeries.— Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert (@IntermarcheWG) May 29, 2022
4 months ago, he did not have a contract.
Today, 39-year-old Domenico Pozzovivo finished 8th of the #Giro.
In the end, he finished eighth, 17:29 behind 26-year-old Jai Hindley, but that’s more or less irrelevant. More important is that Pozzovivo has completed his 15th of 22 Grand Tours he started, collecting his eighth top-10 GC finish and a first since 2018. While fellow veteran Vincenzo Nibali has announced he’ll be retiring at the end of the season (at 38), Pozzovivo is yet to put an end date on his career.
One more, Domenico?