Lampre warns Pozzato over being a ‘prima donna’

Lampre-Merida team management has told star Italian rider Filippo Pozzato to pull himself together — on the bike, and off

Photo: Tim De Waele

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MILAN (VN) — Lampre-Merida team management has told star Italian rider Filippo Pozzato to pull himself together, adding that it doesn’t need a “prima donna” in the team.

“We’re not happy, and we’ve told him this, just as a company should tell its employees,” Lampre general manager Brent Copeland told Italy’s Tutto Bici website. “What’s not good is his attitude towards the team. He is not respectful of his teammates, or the team’s internal rules. He cannot wear his own shoes at will, while all the other use shoes with the team’s colors.

“Take [Wednesday], the whole team left for [the Vuelta a España] in the morning, he made his trip in the afternoon. We do not really need prima donnas, we just want racers who act professionally and show their talent. And ‘Pippo’ doesn’t lack talent.”

Copeland made his remarks midway into Pozzato’s second season with Lampre, after Pozzato spoke openly about his shortcomings.

Pozzato told La Gazzetta dello Sport that in July that he thought about quitting cycling after a career that includes wins at Milano-Sanremo, E3 Harelbeke, and stages of the Tour de France.

“I was fed up,” Pozzato said. “Many things weren’t working, and I’m not just talking about the results. The differences with the team. The feeling that I’m considered a person who doesn’t give a damn, when it’s exactly the opposite. I’m the first one to be upset when things don’t go right.

“Is it all OK with the team? I’d rather not talk about that, I’d rather think about the races.”

Over a 15-year pro career, Pozzato has ridden for teams such as Mapei, Fassa Bortolo, Quick Step, Liquigas, and Katusha, and joined Lampre though 2015 after taking a step down to second division team Farnese Vini in 2012.

In 2012, Pozzato admitted to having worked with banned Italian trainer Michele Ferrari, from 2005 to 2008, and sporadically between 2008 and 2010; Pozzato received a backdated three-month suspension.

In 2013, he won three one-day races, Trofeo Laigueglia, Coppa Agostoni, and GP Pluoay Ouest-France. Since then, however, things have been quiet. His best place was third in the prologue of the Tour of Japan, and as Copeland said, he has yet to earn one WorldTour point.

“I take the responsibility,” Pozzato continued. “A lot of shit has been thrown on me, but there aren’t problems. For sure, it wasn’t for the lack of working hard. I’ve tried to change my training, less quantity and more intensity.”

Pozzato added that in the spring he felt that he had the base, but lacked the punch. After changing his training, he said that the Eneco Tour went well for him. He is now aiming for the world championships, using the Vuelta a España as a springboard. A good result in the Spanish stage race, which started Saturday in the county’s south, would be well-timed as far as Lampre is concerned.

“In a time of crisis like this, where it is difficult to keep open a team, it’s not tolerable that there is someone who does not understand the situation,” said Copeland. “For us Pippo is an asset, a key point of the team, and for this reason we have sent him to the Vuelta. Has the opportunity to show off and earn a spot in the Italian team for the worlds. But it’s not a good move to act like one who doesn’t understand. I don’t like when someone acts as the victim, when that’s not the case.”

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