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Filippo Ganna on UCI Hour Record attempt: I need to do the biggest effort of my life

The Italian says maintaining a high cadence could make the difference Saturday.

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Filippo Ganna says he will have to pull out the biggest ride of his career so far as he takes on the UCI Hour Record in Grenchen, Switzerland on Saturday.

Considered one of the best time trialists of his generation, and a top track star too, Ganna’s record attempt has been one of the most hotly anticipated of recent years.

The Italian is expected to blast through Dan Bigham’s record of 55.548 km, which was set in August, but that is easier said than done. Setting a new record will require Ganna to really push through the pain barrier in the second half of his ride.

“We hope to be well. In the power meter, the numbers are good. I don’t know, I hope to be well, tomorrow we will see. For sure, tomorrow I need to do the biggest effort of my life. We will see if the condition is fine or not,” Ganna said in a press conference from his hotel room Friday.

“For the last 30 minutes tomorrow, I don’t know what I can think. Maybe, I will just try to breath normal and try not to feel the pain in the legs, and also the ass because it’s a hard position.”

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Ganna has done a few trial runs of his Hour Record attempt. Prior to the road worlds last month, he tested himself over the full hour but at a slightly slower than he is planning to do Saturday.

Meanwhile, earlier this week he did a full-gas 35-minute effort at the Montichiari velodrome in Italy. During that ride, he clocked an average speed of 56.169 kp/h, which would put him half a kilometer further than the Bigham’s record.

A lot can change in the final 25 minutes of an hour record, so Ganna’s not taking too much from that.

“Tomorrow is 60 minutes, so it changes a little bit. Maybe if it was 35 minutes tomorrow, I could say that it was really easy and at 36 I want to die,” he said. “We tried the pacing before the worlds with a more conservative pacing to try and do an hour. We saw that I could do it a little bit more hard, more strong than they thought. We will see what we can do. During the race, I will decide on the real pacing.

“During training, I was doing 16.5 and last week during the 35-minute test, it was 16 and 15.8. It depends.”

For his record attempt, Ganna will ride a unique 3D-printed Pinarello Bolide. The new Bolide F HR 3D is a little heavier than Ganna is used to racing on at nine kilograms, but he’s not overly concerned about that.

Once he’s got his momentum up, he says that the weight won’t really matter.

“It’s heavier than a normal bike but it’s faster. Nine kilos is a lot but it’s ok. Maybe in the first three or four laps, you don’t feel super fast, but after five minutes she flies on the track. We hope we can fly for one hour,” he said. “Maybe [Fausto] Pinarello has put a lot of love inside and it is heavy with the love.”

Just as important as Ganna’s bike will be his gear selection. The Italian has been wavering between a few different choices. In the end, he says he’s going for a slightly smaller gear so that he can pedal faster throughout his effort.

“For the gear, today and Monday I tried with the 65 and I have the idea to use the 66 but I prefer to stay with a little bit more a high cadence just in case. On the track, normally we stay around 170 or 120 rpm, tomorrow it’s closer to a road race, about 96. If I have one more rpm then I think it can help me,” he said.

Ganna has won a lot during his career, from world to Olympic titles, and grand tour stages. So, where in the ranks of his already glistening palmarès would an hour record sit?

Well, it depends on just how good it is. Simply beating the record would not be enough to shunt it near the top of his achievements, he needs to smash it.

“For sure, the Olympics is the most important event that I have participated in and that win is the top level. The hour record, it depends tomorrow. If I do a good performance, but not like I wanted it could be in the middle of the races that I’ve won,” he said.

“If I do one of the best performances ever, for sure it will be in the second place behind the Olympics. The Olympics for me is the most important event that I do and I think it’s personal when it’s a team effort with the guys and winning together is more important than winning alone. It’s like life, together we can make the difference.”