Milan-San Remo winner Filippo Pozzato has announced his retirement from the peloton, aged 37.
The Italian’s career has spanned 19 years as he rode for some of the most prolific teams in professional cycling.
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In an emotional statement, Pozzato said his retirement closes a sad year after the death of his father.
He said: “Here we are to write the conclusion of the most intense and fun part of my life.
“My childhood dream has been realised and now it’s over already, maybe in a way that I would not have wanted.
“I close a sad year due to the loss of my father who along with my mother was the pillar of my life.
“The curtain falls without making as much noise as I would have liked.
“I look back and see 19 years of my career flying away.”
Pozzato turned pro in 2000 with the Mapei-Quickstep team, later going on to ride for Liquigas, Katusha and Lampre-Merida before he joining Professional Continental outfit Willer Triestina in 2016.
His palmerès features wins at some of the biggest races, including two stages of the Tour de France, general classification victory at Tirreno-Adriatico in 2003, and Milan-San Remo in 2006.
He said: “When Mapei came to look for me at 16, I thought it was a joke.
“The three years with the ‘cubed jersey’ were fantastic, even today I think it was the best team in the world.
“It was a period too short to learn the world of cycling however.”
Pozzato added that he felt he didn’t always make the best of his talent.
He said: “In many situations, I felt liked I was wearing a tailor-made suit that is not yours – either it was too wide or often it was tight.
“However, I managed to achieve some of my dreams, like the San Remo in 2006.
“Unfortunately, the last few years have not been easy. I have always struggled to get out as I would have liked, but in the end I had to give up.”
He said he now hopes to focus on the Continental team he is building, and hopes to develop the next generation of Italian cycling talent.