Filippo Ganna (Ineos Grenadiers) blazed to victory in the UAE Tour time trial Monday, motoring through the 13km course at an average speed of 55.98kph to take his eighth-straight victory against the clock.
The world was expecting Ganna to set the fastest time, and the unstoppable Italian duly delivered to set a winning time of 13:56, the only rider capable of going sub-14 minutes. Despite being a near-unstoppable force in top-level time trials, the 24-year-old said his dominance doesn’t come easily.
“It was not easy,” he said. “Every race is hard because I have to arrive with focus and good legs, but I was ready today, and it’s a good result for me, and the team.”
Stefan Bissegger (EF Education-Nippo) took second and Mikkel Bjerg (UAE Team Emirates) came third on the looping circuit on Al Hudayriat Island, Abu Dhabi, 14 and 21 seconds down on the TT world champ.
The convincing margin of Ganna’s win marks him out as more than odds-on to defend his rainbow jersey at the worlds later this year.
“It was strange in the middle of the desert, really nice,” he said. “At the moment I’m really happy, and in the future I hope to produce more like this, like at Tirreno Adriatico next month. Every TT is a test for me. I try to arrive better and better. It’s really important.”
Tadej Pogačar (UAE-Team Emirates) finished fourth on the day, 24 seconds down on Ganna, but takes the GC lead heading into the first summit finish of the race Tuesday. João Almeida (Deceuninck-Quick-Step) moves up to second on GC after an impressive sixth on the stage.
Who did what and the GC implications
Bjerg was one of the early starters, and the powerful Dane set the early mark to beat of 14:17 before Bisseger stole his spot on the hot seat not long afterward.
Chris Froome was an early starter as he raced on the Factor TT machine of Israel Start-Up Nation for the first time, and punched up 15:32, a time that turned out over 90 seconds slower than Ganna. Sepp Kuss finished four seconds slower than Froome at 15:36.
Defending champion Adam Yates (Ineos Grenadiers) will be disappointed to finish nearly one minute down and find himself 39 seconds back on Pogačar, fifth in the GC. American talent Nielson Powless (EF Education-Nippo) finished one second faster than Yates to move to sixth overall.
Overnight race leader Mathieu van der Poel did not start the stage after his entire Alpecin Fenix team withdrew from the race Monday morning after one of their staff tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday night.