Classics question: which way for Phinney and Pozzato?

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A tale of two riders as we enter the classics season: Taylor Phinney (BMC) and Filippo Pozzato (Farnese Vini Selle Italia).

Both rider riders are looking to make their mark in the cobbles but for very different reasons. The young Phinney has been saddled with the burden of expectation the last few years as American’s great white hope for a classics superstar.

Last season wasn’t a huge debut success for Phinney in his new BMC kit. First a knee injury, then a concussion and even the rumors that he wasn’t taking the life of a professional cyclist seriously enough. Word was he had a bit of a “clothes shopping” problem.

As he admitted at the time: “I realized I’m a pro and that’s the way I have to live.” He also has to live up to all those expectations that someday he’ll be the first American to win Paris-Roubaix or Flanders.

Nobody’s is expecting that triumph this year as he makes his classics debut. Still, it’s time to show progress, another level up, some initial installment on the road to inevitable greatness. We’ll see what he can do in Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne. Phinney is a prolific and amusing tweeter but now it’s time to put serious pedal to cobble.

For Italian Filippo Pozzato, the story is far different. It’s not a case of fulfilling promise but a return to form that once saw him counted among the top classics riders like Tom Boonen and Fabian Cancellara.

After two miserable and unsuccessful years with Katusha, the Russian Global Cycling Shindig, Pipo took a step back and a step down to return to an Italian pro continental team. He had big plans for a return to glory until he broke his right collarbone in the recent Tour of Oman. Oh man, that was bad news.

The cycling media quickly began to write off his chances of building form for the classics. That is until Pozzato got himself screwed back together at the hospital, immediately jumped on the trainer the day after and insisted he would ride both Omloop Het Nieuwsblad and Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne. He said he’d just ignore the pain and get back to work. Admirable in that classics hardman way and perhaps flat out stupid.

Like in Phinney’s case, nobody is expecting much from Pozzato — whose only goal will be to survive the two races without a crash and further damage to his collarbone and season goals.

Omloop and KBK will provide lots of exciting action and maybe a partial answer to the joint question on Phinney and Pozzato: which was are they going?

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