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Domenico Pozzovivo has put off retirement for at least one more year.
The Italian will race in the colors of the Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux team after securing a last-minute deal with the Belgian team. He will make his debut with the squad at the five-day Ruta del Sol, which starts Wednesday, the team confirmed.
Pozzovivo was left without a contract for 2022 when Qhubeka-NextHash folded at the end of last season after he had stood by the team in the hope it could secure sponsorship to race.
“The opportunity to race for Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux is very important to me,” Pozzovivo said. “My new teammates already showed fantastic performances the past couple of weeks, so I’m motivated to support them this week. For myself, it will be a good test during which I will learn more about my working points.
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“I’m excited to get to know my new teammates and staff, luckily I can rely on my experience to adapt fast to this new environment. I want to thank Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux for this opportunity, I’m very eager to show them that they made the right choice.”
His switch to Intermarché has been rumored in the Italian press for several weeks. His name appeared on the team’s UCI page Monday, but the deal was only made official Tuesday. After being left without a ride for this season, Pozzovivo told Italian website BiciPro that he was considering retirement, but he wasn’t ready to give up.
— Domenico Pozzovivo (@pozzovivod) February 15, 2022
The 39-year-old said in a team press release that he still wanted to show what he was capable of after a training accident in 2019 almost ended his career. He was hit head-on by a driver and suffered fractures to his right leg, left arm, collarbone, and ribs.
Despite not having a contract, Pozzovivo said he has pushed himself in training throughout the winter.
“Since my accident and the doubts of the doctors about the possibility to ride a bike again, I am driven by a strong desire to show that I can still approach the level I was racing at before,” he said. “I love to challenge myself and I want to prove that I am still able to finish in the top ten of a Grand Tour in my second career. This winter, I never ceased training. I’m satisfied with my current form and very much looking forward to getting the season started in the Ruta del Sol.”
Pozzovivo will be joined by Jan Bakelants, Kobe Goossens, Théo Delacroix, Biniam Girmay, Barnabás Peák, and Taco van der Hoorn at the Ruta del Sol. The five-day race will see at least 3,000 meters of climbing each stage and will culminate with a summit finish on Alto de Chiclana de Segura this Sunday.
While the team hopes to see him perform in Spain this week, he will provide reinforcement in the grand tours later this season.
“The addition of Domenico Pozzovivo to our group of climbers will open many doors for us, as he is a solid reinforcement for the grand tours and time trials,” performance manager Aike Visbeek said. “Domenico shows a lot of ambition, so I’m pleased that we can aim for a top 10 in all three grand tours thanks to him and Louis Meintjes.
“We experienced in the latest Vuelta how important a GC leader is to drive the team, and moreover, our young riders will benefit from his experience and learn from his professionalism.”