NTT Pro Cycling climber Domenico Pozzovivo climbed off his bike following the conclusion of stage 3 of the Criterium du Dauphine, sporting a wry smile. Having finished just over two mins behind compatriot Davide Formolo, who won solo in stunning style, he’d also just slipped off the back of the race’s elite group of climbers with 3km to go. W
The 37-year-old Italian had expertly managed himself to the finish, retaining his top-20 spot on the general classification; a confidence building performance ahead of bigger challenges ahead, namely the Tour de France.
The date was an important one for Pozzovivo, as 14 August, 2020 marked exactly a year since he underwent a mammoth six hour operation on serious injuries to his leg and arm sustained in a head-on collision with a car while out training. It’s a remarkable recovery for a man who thought that his cycling career had ended on that day.
“I could not imagine to be (back) here and at this level. In the beginning my opinion, and that of the doctors, was that it would be impossible to come back to even ride a bike again, let alone to race one. The first surgery was an emergency on the day of the crash (12 August 2019), it was simply to save my life. On the 14th I was operated on again in Switzerland where consideration was given to maximising what they could for the future, including the insertion of over 20 screws and four metal plates.
“From that point there was a still a lot of uncertainty, as you don’t know how the body will react to the metal and how the body will develop in the future as I’d lost a lot of bone, on the street. I spent a month in hospital which included six surgeries for injuries to my tibia, right hand, four ribs as well as the collar bone.”
Pozzovivo, incredibly, made a return to racing in February at the Tour de la Provence, followed by the UAE tour, and says that he’s getting stronger all the time: “I always try to do my best but if you think (of what’s happened) then I must be proud. In February when I raced it was still playing on my mind and I had some pain but now during the race but it’s not something I’m thinking about anymore, I’m just occupied by the tempo, and performing in the race.”