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Tirreno-Adriatico: Filippo Ganna – ‘It’s difficult to think I can follow Tadej Pogačar on the climbs’

Burly Italian plays down GC chances despite clinging on to top climbers in Provence and the UAE last month.

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LIDO DI CAMIORE, Italy (VN) – Sure, we all know Filippo Ganna is likely to win the Tirreno-Adriatico time trial, but he’s not going to win the whole thing too, is he?

That’s the question that’s been doing the rounds after the Ineos Grenadiers rouleur ripped through some red-hot rides at the Tour de la Provence and UAE Tour last month.

A course short on mountains and with a tone-setting time trial Monday plays in “Top Ganna’s” favor in the Italian race this week, but he knows he’s no Tadej Pogačar just yet.

“The leaders of this race are Richard Carapaz and Richie Porte, and it’s my job to help them,” Ganna told the media at the Tirreno press conference Sunday.

“Of course tomorrow in the ITT I’ll try to do well, and we’ll take it day by day thinking about the goals of the team. It’s difficult to think I can follow Tadej on the climbs, there are better riders, better climbers than me and it will be my job to help them.”

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Ganna was the revelation of the winter with some beyond-his-weight rides through Provence and the Emirates.

He was sprinting against Julian Alaphilippe and Bryan Coquard one day in Provence, climbing with riders some 20kg lighter the next. Only an untimely and off-rulebook bike change dampened the mood and DQ’d him from the race.

But it was no French fluke.

Ganna was at it again at the UAE Tour, finishing just three seconds back on Pogačar in the UAE’s first mountaintop finish, setting tongues wagging about whether he could become an Induain-esque GC heavyweight.

Turns out Tirreno won’t be the place he gets to prove it, as Carapaz and Porte take charge on the Ineos squad.

What Ganna does know he’s good at is the race against the clock. Tirreno rolls out with a 14km horsepower TT on Monday that plays right into the double world champ’s wheelhouse.

But even the burly Italian isn’t ruling out the defending Tirreno champion Pogačar from going better. After all, the Slovenian is making a habit of storming everything he rides. Only Saturday, the Slovenian set Strade Bianche alight with his 50km solo victory.

“We all know how good Tadej is and we hope he’s tired after what he did yesterday in Strade Bianche,” Ganna said of Monday’s Tirreno TT. “He’s proving he’s always in great shape and arriving at the start of races in great form so he’ll be a top competitor for tomorrow and the future.”

Pogačar on Tirreno TT: ‘I need to do my best 14K’

Ganna wasn’t the only one to dish out compliments Sunday.

Pogačar replied in kind, suggesting every second counts in a race where the TT could dictate the play for the week to come. The opening lung-burner on the beachfront of Camaiore will see him go up against top time trialing classification riders like Porte, Jonas Vingegaard, Remco Evenepoel … and Ganna of course.

“I think I need to do my best 14K so I don’t lose time against the other GC I think if I’m just around everyone is fine for me,” Pogačar said. “Around 10-20 seconds would be fine, in front is better, behind means I need to race more attacking and aggressively, but sometimes that can be good.”

Anyone who was watching Strade on Saturday won’t want to see Pogačar gaining time on Monday’s TT. But they sure won’t want him racing aggressively in a chase for time later in the week either.