Road

Filippo Ganna to return to spring classics ahead of 2021 Olympic bid

Italian star to take momentum from 2020 into spring classics campaign ahead of Olympic bid.

Filippo Ganna endured a rollercoaster 2020. The Italian star set a world record on the track, won a world time trial title, scored four stage wins at the Giro d’Italia … and then contracted coronavirus.

The 24-year old isn’t letting his recent infection with COVID-19 put the brakes on his ambitions for 2021, because he sets his sights on Olympic gold on both the road and track. Before that, he’s hoping to carry the momentum of a breakout 2020 season and the sense that anything is possible into the rough and tumble of the spring one-dayers.

“I have the Olympics in my sights, but why not think about some classics, too? I’d love to win Sanremo, but also Flanders or Roubaix,” Ganna told Sky Sports. “If you think that I did not expect to get to the end of the Giro, let alone to win a road stage …”

After taking the pink jersey at the Giro’s opening time trial in Palermo, Ganna went on to complete the set of races against the clock in his debut grand tour. With the Italian race coming just a week after Ganna took the world time trial title, few were surprised to see him blow away the field in the Corsa Rosa‘s TTs.

It was a bit of a shock to see how the 80kg rouleur hauled himself through a wet and gritty mountain stage to Camigliatello Silano to score a breakaway victory for Ineos Grenadiers. It was a result that sparked a nation’s hopes for a new grand tour star as Vincenzo Nibali rode an anonymous race in Italy, and perhaps also gave Ganna the confidence to have another tilt at the classics.

“It was something spectacular when I immediately put on the pink jersey,” Ganna said.

“I entered the hearts of people who might not know who I am and I am happy to have contributed to making people fall in love with cycling, which perhaps had been put aside a little, but also to have received so much warmth,” he said. “I am very grateful to the fans on the side of the road. During the race, when you are thinking of giving up, when you hear the encouragement of a or you see a sign on the road, you give more.”

Buoyed by a breakout road season, Ganna is a red-hot favorite for the Tokyo time trial and track pursuit race, where he will once again shoulder the hopes of his home fans.

“I didn’t miss anything in 2021, including this damn virus that is in circulation. I hope to get over it soon and then plan for 2021,” he said. “The Olympics will certainly be important, both the time trial title and on the track. There is a lot of fuel on the fire for the coming year. We hope that everything goes well.”