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

Ganna proves doubters wrong and breaks Belgian hearts as Küng misses out on global domination

Ganna times his return to form perfectly

Filippo Ganna

(Image credit: Getty)

And those quiet murmurs have been silenced: Filippo Ganna remains the best time triallist around. Was it ever really in doubt?

A fourth-place in the Italian nationals, fifth at the Tokyo Olympics and a silver medal at the recent European Championships had indicated that the Italian machine was not quite producing his trademark best against the clock, but in what was quite predictable fashion, the 25-year-old successfully retained his rainbow stripes after a superb afternoon’s racing in Belgium.

The Italian did it in a manner that broke Belgian hearts, too, coming from behind to overtake Wout van Aert and beat him by six seconds despite being in arrears to the Jumbo-Visma man at both checkpoints.

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Ganna is an expert in pacing his effort on a parcours, and quite clearly he is also the best in the business at timing his form right.

The time trial star of his generation delivers again.

Home success snatched away at the death

Wout van Aert

(Image credit: Getty)

Filippo Ganna’s gain was heartbreak for the home nation.

Remco Evenepoel set the day’s fastest time early on and so fast was it at an average speed of 53.549kph, the crowd by the road can be forgiven for thinking they had witnessed the day’s winner-in-waiting.

It then became clear that Evenepoel wouldn’t be winning gold but top spot would still likely belong to Belgium, Van Aert going more than half-a-minute faster than his compatriot, only for the pair to both be denied by Ganna.

Silver for Van Aert is a repetition of his result in Imola, Italy, 12 months ago, and bronze for Evenepoel is just his second medal in the event after finishing second in 2019.

Neither, however, will be satisfied, for perennial winners – and the in-form pair are exactly that – view silver and bronze as first and second losers.

The wait for a male Belgian time trial world champion goes on.

Not to be for Küng

Stefan Kung

(Image credit: Getty)

Stefan Küng just cannot convert continental glory into global triumph.

Winner of the European time trial title the past two seasons and four time trials this season alone, the Swiss was one of the favourites to snatch the rainbow bands off Filippo Ganna, but the 27-year-old finished outside the medal spots in fifth, a significant 1-07 off the Italian winner.

Last year Küng finished third in Italy, making his result in Belgium a more disappointing one, and he never looked on course to even threaten Remco Evenepoel who had occupied the race leader’s chair for a long duration.

It’s hard to be too critical of Küng, but his victory against Ganna 10 days ago would have provided him with the confidence he needed to believe he could better his rival once more.

It was not to be though, and Küng will again have to wait one more year to claim that elusive world title to add to his palmarès.

Asgreen denied medal on emotional day for Denmark

Kasper Asgreen

(Image credit: Getty)

The Worlds began in mourning with the tragic passing of Chris Anker Sørensen, the former Danish pro who was killed while out riding in Belgium on Saturday.

Hugely likeable and an esteemed rider, Sørensen’s early death at just 37 touched the entire cycling world, and thus it was an unenviable task that lay in wait for Mikkel Bjerg and Kasper Asgreen who had to fly the Danish flag just hours after the news broke.

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Riding in his compatriot’s honour, Asgreen rode exceptionally well, the Tour of Flanders winner finishing off the podium by an agonising two seconds to settle for fourth-place.

A strong time triallist – he has been the Danish champion in the discipline for the past three years – his ride in Belgium was still better than what was expected, a huge testament to the 26-year-old on a horrible, difficult day for Danish cycling.

Martin bows out with a strong showing

Tony Martin

(Image credit: Getty)

Four-time world champion Tony Martin announced before the day’s racing that he would be retiring from the sport at the end of this week’s World Championships.

An unexpected announcement given that the German still had a year left on his contract with Jumbo-Visma, the 36-year-old bowed out on a high, finishing an impressive sixth.

When he crossed the line in Bruges he was provisionally second before being knocked back by the late finishers, but nonetheless one of the finest riders of this century can be immensely proud with how he has signed off.

He will retire after the mixed team relay race a winner of 67 professional races, 50 of which came in time trials.

Athletes always talk about wanting to end on a high, when they are still competitive, and that is exactly how Martin will hang up his racing wheels. Chapeau.

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Chris Marshall-Bell

Chris first started writing for Cycling Weekly in 2013 on work experience and has since become a regular name in the magazine and on the website. Reporting from races, long interviews with riders from the peloton and riding features drive his love of writing about all things two wheels.

Probably a bit too obsessed with mountains, he was previously found playing and guiding in the Canadian Rockies, and now mostly lives in the Val d’Aran in the Spanish Pyrenees where he’s a ski instructor in the winter and cycling guide in the summer. He almost certainly holds the record for the most number of interviews conducted from snowy mountains.