Filippo Pozzato knows he’s not making it easy on himself by racing the week after the Tour of Lombardy and Paris-Tours, when the peloton goes on holiday, but there was no other place on the calendar this year. He is in negotiations with the International Cycling Union UCI to bring the races to September in 2022.
For the first race, the Giro del Veneto, the riders will ride today between the Italian cities of Cittadella and Padua, over a distance of just under 170 km. The race existed until 2012 and has an impressive list of achievements, with almost all major Italian names as winners. One Belgian also won: Roger De Vlaeminck in 1974. Today’s starting list includes WorldTour teams such as Astana, Cofidis, UAE Emirates (Mark Hirschi) and Intermarché Wanty-Gobert (Jan Bakelants). Alpecin-Fenix is also taking part, including Xandro Meurisse and Louis Vervaeke.
The most special course of ‘Ride the Dreamland’ is on the menu on Friday. It is the first real gravel race for cycling professionals over a distance of 132 km. Pozzato was in talks with Peter Sagan for a long time as the driver of his gravel race, but the Czech was finally not allowed to participate.
On Sunday, Filippo Pozzato will unveil the flagship. Then the Veneto Classic is on the bill, a race between Venice and Bassano del Grappa, over a distance of 207 km with 2,450 vertical meters. In the long run, Pozzato wants to raise that competition to the highest level, WorldTour.
The day before, Saturday, there is a tour for cycling tourists in the region, a so-called GranFondo. The set-up starts modestly by Flemish standards, with about 800 participants, but to attract attention Pozzato stricted his friends Fabian Cancellara and Alessandro Ballan.
Pozzato may be devoted to his Veneto region, which he wants to put in the spotlight with ‘Ride the Dreamland’, but he also has a warm heart for Flanders. It is no coincidence that his honors list includes the E3 Harelbeke and Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, in addition to places of honor in the Tour of Flanders In recent months, Pozzato has regularly consulted with Tomas Van Den Spiegel, CEO of the Flemish race organizer Flanders Classics.
”I see enormous opportunities to put the Veneto region on the map through the racing bike. Just like in Flanders, I want to bring the enthusiasm for cycling to my home region. With cities like Venice, Padua, Treviso, Bassano del Grappa, we have something to offer, and the region is certainly as beautiful as the well-known Tuscany. Our region of famous prosecco has enough to attract tourists.”
Together with Flanders Classics, he also focused on the cyclo-cross in Val di Sole on December 12. That cross belongs to the circuit of the World Cup. Pozzato wants to keep in touch with CEO Tomas Van Den Spiegel in order to expand the Italian Flanders Classics.
The Giro del Veneto (today) and Veneto Classic (Sunday) are broadcast by Rai and Eurosport. Pozzato would also have liked to see the Serenissima Gravel (Friday) on television, but that turned out to be technically impossible.