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Last call: train nr. 103 from Verbania


Right on schedule, Filippo Ganna did not miss his appointment with his third success on the roads of Tirreno-Adriatico. The Piedmontese man – born in Verbania, on the shores of Lake Maggiore – honoured the Tricoulor he was wearing, not merely because he blazed it at full speed on the roads of Lido di Camaiore today (Ganna is national time trial champion), but also because the last three Italian successes in this competition all bear his signature. Indeed, the former ITT world champion had claimed the final time trial in San Benedetto del Tronto in 2020 and this same opening stage in Lido di Camaiore last year: to find an Italian flag waiving on the top step of the podium again, we have to go back to 2019, with Elia Viviani’s winning sprint in Foligno. For the previous one, we need a real time machine to take us all the way back to 2015, more precisely to Adriano Malori’s victory in another TT right in Lido di Camaiore.

Let’s face it, the “Race of the Two Seas” has never been a hunting ground for Italians. Luckily, Ganna has hit these roads again and improved our statistics one more time. But this victory is important from a personal point of view as well, it is the first since the historic Hour Record last October, as well as the first seasonal one after a series of podiums that were beginning to taste like a mockery.

Ganna had started the season with the best intentions: on the climbs of the Vuelta a San Juan he had fought shoulder to shoulder against riders weighing between 20 and 25 kg less than him, such as Miguel Angel Lopez, Remco Evenepoel, and Sergio Higuita, eventually placing second overall, while at the Volta ao Algarve he had been beaten in the time trial by Stefan Küng and Rémi Cavagna, and in the overall classification, after holding his own on the climbs, he was beaten by just two seconds by teammate Daniel Martinez. Returning to victory was therefore the first goal of the season: mission accomplished.

He is unlikely to try to go for GC in this “Race of the Two Seas”, he will more likely be at the service of his teammates, Magnus Sheffield, Thymen Arensman and Tao Geoghegan Hart in particular, who defended themselves well in this inaugural time trial. What the talented American can do in stage races like this one is yet to be discovered, but in the meantime, he enjoyed the Hot Seat for a long time today and will wear the Maglia Bianca tomorrow. On top of that, if he wants to try and hold on on the climbs, the gap gained today will certainly come in handy.

Brandon McNulty, João Almeida (UAE Team Emirates), Jai Hindley, Aleksandr Vlasov (Bora-hansgrohe), and the returning Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) also responded very well today, while Adam Yates (UAE Team Emirates) and Mikel Landa (Bahrain Victorious) seemed far from their best shape. If good day starts in the morning, however, it will be a fascinating Tirreno-Adriatico, balanced and uncertain to the last.

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