Filippo Ganna thanks rivals for motivating him in fight for time trial World Championships

"With Remco in the European Championships I thought ‘wow next week I need to go really fast’"

The podium of the Worlds TT
The podium of the Worlds TT
(Image credit: DAVID STOCKMAN/BELGA MAG/AFP via Getty Images)

Filippo Ganna has thanked his rivals for motivating him to retain his World Championship time trial jersey.

Italian powerhouse Ganna set a blistering time on the 43.4km-long TT course in Flanders on Sunday (September 19), fighting against home favourites Wout van Aert and Remco Evenepoel.

It was a remarkably tight race between Van Aert and Ganna out on the road, with the latter opening up in the second half of the course to take his second consecutive Worlds victory. 

Despite being one of the most dominant time triallists of the last few seasons, Ganna’s 2021 form has fluctuated as he missed out on an Olympic medal in the TT and finished second behind Stefan Küng at the European Championships 10 days ago. 

Speaking after the finish of the Worlds TT, Ganna said: “When I woke up I wanted to ride to get this result but it was not going to be easy.

“Last week in the Euro Championships I had a good shape with the legs, but I tried to stay calm and stay focused for today. I know in front of me there are two big riders in Remco and Wout, but I tried to pull much faster, and get a result, and that for me is really important.”

He added: “I will say thank you to both guys, because they put in my head the motivation to improve day by day  

“Sometimes the race won’t go how you want in your head and you have the motivation in your head to have a good performance, like Remco in the European Championships, you think ‘wow next week I need to go really fast’. 

Missing out to Küng in the European Championships, Ganna was also pushed hard by stage racing start Evenepoel, despite the Belgian’s diminutive stature compared to Ganna. 

Ganna, 25, said he tried to ride with a comfortable power in the opening half of the Worlds course, and then dig deeper into the second half to try and gain time on his rivals. 

The approach seemed to work, as Ganna was seven seconds slower than Van Aert in the opening section of the course, only to finish six seconds quicker by the finish. 

>>> Five talking points from the elite men's time trial at the 2021 World Championships

Ganna said: “You can win or lose a time trial in one corner, because if you keep the corner 2km/h faster or slower you can win or lose the race. 

“We did the same race, did the same effort, in the end I won with my head and my heart because today I know my goal was to win, but I want to say chapeau to both guys and every rider that started today because I think everyone has performed well.”  

Alex Ballinger
Alex Ballinger

Alex is the digital news editor for CyclingWeekly.com. After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter and now as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output.

Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) and joining CW in 2018, Alex has covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers. 

Away from journalism, Alex is a national level time triallist, avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.