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Filippo Ganna rode a masterful time trial to defend his world title and crush Belgian hearts Sunday.
The Italian rode a perfectly-paced ride at the UCI road world championships time trial to edge Wout van Aert into silver, with Remco Evenepoel making it two Belgians on the podium in Bruges by finishing third.
Evenepoel crushed the early starters with his race into bronze only to see van Aert and Ganna both go faster when they started later in the day. Though van Aert rocketed through the first-half of the course to move into the provisional gold medal, Ganna kept on increasing his pace as the Belgian lost ground to spoil the Belgian party, beating van Aert by just six seconds.
Ganna had gone into the race as a top favorite, but said that his confidence had taken a blow when he was bettered by Stefan Küng (Switzerland) at last week’s European champs
“In one week, my condition came up really well. After the camp at altitude I did the European championships but the legs didn’t spin very well. I didn’t know if I could arrive at the worlds with good sensations, good shape but today when I woke up, I had a good feeling in my legs and in my head I just dreamed to win again today,” Ganna said. “For me defending this jersey is very important and I hope to honor it in the next year.”
— UCI (@UCI_cycling) September 19, 2021
Ganna was quick to comiserate van Aert when he skidded to a halt in Bruges. Just like last year in Imola, Ganna pushed van Aert into second-place on the podium. The Italian paid tribute to his two Belgian rivals after the race.
“We are good guys and in the end we have good respect. I think, winning in the host country is amazing but sorry, today I woke up with a dream to win,” Ganna said. “Thank you to the guys, they motivated me to improve and get this result.”
So close! 😢
— Belgian Cycling Team (@BELCyclingTeam) September 19, 2021
Stefan Bisseger (Switzerland) was the first big hitter down the ramp in Nokke-Heist to set the first mark of 49:13:27, but wasn’t able to enjoy the hotseat long.
Home star Evenepoel followed soon behind Bisseger and was met with huge cheers from crowds packed through several sections of the course. The 21-year-old blitzed his race, crushing Bisseger’s provisional times and laying a serious challenge with his time of 48:31:17 – some 42 seconds faster than the Swiss.
Evenepoel’s time splits stood until the final four riders came roaring through. Kasper Asgreen (Denmark), Küng and van Aert set off in succession, with each of the three going progressively faster through the first check.
Küng and Asgreen faded in the second half of the course but van Aert continued rocketing through the 43-kilometer track, toppling Evenepoel’s time at the second split and finishing with the provisional fastest time of 47:53:20.
Defending champ Ganna was the last to start and was a shade behind van Aert’s pace through the first half of the TT, but pulled back the Belgian in the second split. Ganna crossed the second time check less than one second slower than van Aert to make for a nailbiting final 12 minutes as the pair provisionally led the race.
Although van Aert had smashed Evenepoel’s finishing time, Ganna continued to crush the final section of the race, edging van Aert off the gold medal by just six seconds.
The American duo Brandon McNulty and Lawson Craddock finished 22nd and 18th respectively. McNulty was a touch off the pace from early on and never recouped his losses while Craddock was similarly unable to match the sky-high pace of the top contenders.
German TT legend Tony Martin completed his final ITT before retirement to finish sixth, 1:18 down on Ganna.
A familiar face after the time trial🙂 pic.twitter.com/iOZ1HzdUgs
— Team Jumbo-Visma cycling (@JumboVismaRoad) September 19, 2021
Olympic champion Primož Roglič and former TT toppers Tom Dumoulin and Rohan Dennis were not racing.
World Championships ME - ITT Results
|2||VAN AERT Wout||Belgium||0:06|
|8||HAYTER Ethan||Great Britain||1:27|
|12||VAN EMDEN Jos||Netherlands||1:54|
|16||BIGHAM Daniel||Great Britain||2:11|
|18||CRADDOCK Lawson||United States||2:37|
|19||GIBBONS Ryan||South Africa||2:37|
|22||MCNULTY Brandon||United States||3:09|
|23||SCULLY Tom||New Zealand||3:10|
|32||ČERNÝ Josef||Czech Republic||4:00|
|41||JURADO Christofer Robín||Panama||6:10|
|46||ÁGÚSTSSON Rúnar Örn||Iceland||8:08|
Results provided by ProCyclingStats.