During his team’s press conference in the lead-up to the Tour of Flanders, where he is considered one of the favorites, Filippo Pozzato expressed his frustration over Mario Cipollini’s attempt to steal his limelight.
“It is much disappointing for me to see Mario stealing mine and Nibali’s essence after the two of us have such a grandissimo start to 2012,” shared a despondent Pozzato. “After much suffering at Katusha, I am happy to be back in the breasts of Italy. I thank Angelo Citracca for making me comforted.”
Pozzato went on to document the exasperating media push by the “Lion King,” which culminated in a bizarre 35-minute interview during a live Tirreno-Adriatico telecast, where Vincenzo Nibali cemented his status as a GC contender for 2012, and Cipollini attempted to distract the Italian media away from Pozzato’s return to form in this year’s classics.
When asked what specifically bothered him about Mario and his so-called “thunder stealing,” Pozzato was fairly direct and blunt. “He’s old. His physical prowess requires those little pills of energy. This is time he thrusts himself on women half his age, and enjoys the twilight of his lifespan. He should leave racing and attention to the young lions who easily lap his so-called sporting strengthness.”
Members of the press corps pointed out that Mario had achieved this feat by sponsoring a women’s team, and had recently done a photo and video spread in the Hills of Italy, passing on his “training tips.”
Pozzato, unaware of the photo session, smiled in reply. “That is first step of the grandissimo retired champion. I pray his lady team keep him busy and away from the Giro duties, and keep him distracted for the Flanders this weekend,” stated a focused Pippo.
Pozzato heads into this weekend as one of the heavy favorites, but faces an uphill battle against the strong one-two punch of the Omega-Pharma-Quickstep duo of Tom Boonen and Sylvain Chavanel. The Tour of Flanders – minus the Muur and the Bosberg – goes off Sunday.