VALDOBBIADENE, IT (VN) – Ineos Grenadiers has the ice buckets ready and waiting Saturday for some stage-winner’s bottles of prosecco.
The British team’s time trial powerhouses Filippo Ganna and Rohan Dennis sit pretty at the top of the pre-stage favorites for the Giro d’Italia‘s time trial through the prosecco vineyards above Treviso in what some say is a testament to the squad’s big brains and big budget.
“Ganna has got a huge engine – he turns out numbers I think the rest of us can only dream of,” time trial expert Alex Dowsett told VeloNews. “But it’s also that engine coupled with the team that he has behind him. Ineos has been on the top of their game for so long now. I was part of Sky and I know they just do things right. They look at every little detail.”
Ganna rode into the race’s pink jersey after he blazed through the Giro’s opening Sicily time trial, adding another special edition garment to a wardrobe that includes 2020 national and world time trial champion’s jerseys. Despite having a long stranglehold on the pursuit race on the track, taking his first world title in 2016, it has only been in the past two seasons that the young Italian has risen to become among the biggest, most-aerodynamic motors on pavement in the WorldTour.
While Dowsett moved away from a fledgling Team Sky back in 2o12 and has since set world hour records and dominated the British national time trial competition, Ganna joined the team’s newest iteration, Ineos-Grenadiers, at the start of 2019, having turned pro with UAE-Team Emirates in 2015.
“Ben Swift was with him at UAE and he said, ‘he has numbers like I’ve never seen, I don’t know if his power meter is constantly over-reading,'” Dowsett said. “And when he was at UAE, he’d be there, but he wasn’t what he is now. I think that’s the Ineos effect. They’ve taken his engine and then they’ve just turned it into something that can just now go faster than everyone else.”
Ganna is the clear favorite for the race against the clock Saturday, with teammate and former world time trial champion Rohan Dennis likely to challenge him for victory.
The 34-kilometer ride is no simple city center out-and-back, and includes a short but very steep climb in the opening 10-kilometers posing a challenge to the purest rouleurs. However, after winning an against-the-odds victory in the hilly fifth stage of this Giro, Ganna has proven he has an extra string to his bow beyond blasting around the boards of a velodrome or on a flat, paved stretch of road.
“At first I’d say Ganna can be beaten with those hills,” Brandon McNulty said after another strong ride Friday. “But Ganna’s won one of the hardest stages of the race so far, so he’ll be tough to beat.”
Ineos Grenadiers has long been the home of the sometimes-controversial concept of “marginal gains,” leaving no stone unturned in seeking out every second and spare watt possible. Boasting a blockbuster budget, Ineos was able to lure on an out-of-contract Dennis last year when he left Bahrain-Merida due to disputes with the team.
Saturday could see a clash of world time trial champions, current and former, all under the same roof.
“Ganna looks unbeatable, but it’s a good Rohan [Dennis] course tomorrow as well with some climbs,” Dowsett said. “But I have no doubt everyone has their work cut out trying to beat Ganna.”