Filippo Ganna will wear the rainbow stripes as the men's time trial world champion for the next 12 months after successfully defending his title in Belgium.
The Italian powerhouse beat both of the home favourites, Wout van Aert and Remco Evenepoel, to the top spot, expertly timing his effort to precision, coming from behind to finish six seconds ahead of Van Aert who claimed silver with Evenepoel taking bronze.
In what turned out to be a superb finish that went right down to the wire, Van Aert clocked 47-53 across the 43.3km course, 36 seconds up on Evenepoel whose rapid time earlier in the afternoon looked like being a potential winning one.
But Ganna ticked past the final kilometres to come home narrowly ahead of Van Aert, the Ineos Grenadiers rider reasserting his dominance in the discipline after losing out on the European title to Stefan Küng 10 days earlier.
It the 25-year-old's second successive title in the discipline, and also a repeat result from 2020 for Van Aert who finished second in Italy a year ago.
How it happened
Fifty-five riders took to the start in Knokke-Heist to complete a 43.3km circuit ending in the city of Bruges, with thousands by the roadside.
Stefan Bissegger posted the day’s first impressive time with 49-13, but Evenepoel superseded that benchmark by a massive 42 seconds just moments later.
The Flanders crowd, who had cheered Evenepoel along the home route with banners and deafening cheers as he set new fastest times at each of the two checkpoints, were then rooting for another one of their own, Van Aert setting off and posting the fastest time at the first intermediate time check, improving on Evenepoel's effort by 30 seconds.
Kasper Asgreen of Denmark, Britain’s Ethan Hayter and the European champion Küng were all delivering on the pan-flat course, but it was the reigning champion Ganna who was threatening Van Aert the most, falling just seven seconds shy of the Belgian after 13km.
Tony Martin, a four-time world champion in the discipline, then posted the provisional second fastest ride on the day he announced his retirement from professional cycling, although the exhausted German knew a final podium would be a stretch and he eventually would finish sixth.
Van Aert, meanwhile, went through the second checkpoint still 30 seconds up on Evenepoel, and just two minutes later Ganna went past less than a single second adrift of Van Aert.
In the interim, while the audience waited for the final denouement to the thrilling head-to-head between Van Aert and Ganna, Tour de France winner Tadej Pogačar posted a very respectable time that saw him finish 10th on a parcours not suited to the Slovenian.
Asgreen finished 2.300 seconds off Evenepoel to secure fourth, and just a few minutes later the young Belgian was finally disposed of his title as race leader, with his compatriot Van Aert crossing the line 36 seconds better than Evenepoel.
Kung’s 48-54 meant that Evenepoel was secured a place on the podium, but all eyes then turned to Ganna’s finishing kilometres, and the Italian had timed his effort to perfection to finish six seconds up on Van Aert and ensure that the rainbow stripes remain his.
Result: Men's time trial World Championships: Knokke-Heist to Bruges, 43.3km
1. Filippo Ganna (Italy), in 47-47
2. Wout van Aert (Belgium), at 6s
3. Remco Evenepoel (Belgium), at 44s
4. Kasper Asgreen (Denmark), at 46s
5. Stefan Küng (Switzerland), at 1-07
6. Tony Martin (Germany), at 1-18
7. Stefan Bissegger (Switzerland), at 1-26
8. Ethan Hayter (GBr), at 1-27
9. Edoardo Affini (Italy), at 1-49
10. Tadej Pogačar (Slovenia), at 1-53
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