Filippo Ganna Rides to Victory in Belgium
Italy’s Filippo Ganna successfully defended his time trial title at the Road Cycling World Championships in Flanders as he fought off native riders Wout Van Aert and Remco Evenepoel to claim a fascinating victory.
The 25-year-old finished just five seconds ahead of Tour of Britain champion Van Aert, who was looking to stake his claim on home soil after an impressive year on the tour.
The eventual victor completed the 43.3km course in 47 minutes 47.83 seconds, and there was a clear gulf in class between the gold and silver medalists and the rest of the competition, with third placed Remco Evenepoel finishing some 40 seconds behind.
Though Van Aert had set the fastest time at both intermediate time checks, it was Ganna who prevailed in a fiercely contested time trail. At the first, the Italian registered six seconds behind Van Aert who surged ahead of the nearest competitors by 17 seconds in a breathless start, while at the second checkpoint Ganna managed to cut the deficit to less than a second.
Despite the Belgian crowd’s best efforts to push Van Aert to pedal faster and Ganna to slow his efforts on the inevitable road to victory, the latter made sure that the rainbow jersey would remain his as pumped his fist into the air while crossing the finish line.
Upon winning the title, he said; “Defending this jersey was very important to me.
“In one week, my condition has improved a lot after a short camp at altitude. I did the European Championships but my legs didn’t feel very good and I didn’t know if I could arrive at the Worlds in good shape. But today when I woke up I had good feeling in the legs and to defend this jersey for me is very important. I hope to honour it again for another year.
“We are all good guys and in the end we have good respect. Winning in your home country is amazing but sorry, today I woke up with a dream to win and when I started my race I wanted to win and it’s fantastic to keep this jersey again. Thank you to the guys for motivating me to improve and I’m really happy.”
Elsewhere, Great Britain’s nearest hope of a podium finish was Ethan Hayter who at just 22 once again showed his future potential. The Englishman finished just under a minute and a half behind Filippo Ganna in eighth, while fellow compatriot Dan Bigham found himself trailing in 16th.
Speaking after the time trial, Hayter seemed content with his performance; “There is a bit of room for improvement and I’m still recovering from the Tour of Britain.
“That is one of the longest time trials I’ve done. You kind of just have to tuck in and go into your own world. I just did my thing and went as fast as I could.”
Great Britain’s Joss Lowden and Pfeiffer Georgi will compete in the women’s time trial at 13:30 BST today.