More than just a time trial supremo: 'Filippo Ganna can also be remembered for winning Roubaix, San Remo and maybe a Grand Tour'

Ineos Grenadiers' 25-year-old Italian powerhouse has ambitions on winning more than just time trials

Filippo Ganna
(Image credit: Getty)

Filippo Ganna’s coach believes the Italian will shortly start to expand his repertoire and score landmark victories in one-day classics.

The Ineos Grenadiers rider has established himself as the finest time triallist of his generation in the past two years, while he has also picked up team pursuit gold at the Olympics and won five world titles on the track.

It is expected that even against competitors like Stefan Küng and Grand Tour winners Tadej Pogačar and Primož Roglič, Ganna will continue to rule time trials in the coming years.

His coach Dario Cioni, however, wants the 25-year-old to lay down a marker in the likes of Milan-San Remo, Paris-Roubaix, and even potentially challenge for honours in stage races.

“We know he is a time trial specialist, but in 10 years time I don’t want him to be just remembered for his TT wins,” Cioni told Cycling Weekly.

“A lot of people push him towards being like [Fabian] Cancellara or [Miguel] Indurain because of the similarities, but I just think Filippo is Ganna, and while I want him to be remembered as the best time triallist of all time - which I think he will be - it will be even better if he also won Roubaix, won San Remo, maybe Flanders, or maybe even a Grand Tour.

“Going from now to winning a Grand Tour is a big progression. I don’t know if it is possible, but he needs to follow his instinct and the direction that motivates him.”

In 2016 Ganna won the U23 Paris-Roubaix, and has ridden the elite race twice, but not since 2019.

Cioni explained that it is a race that his athlete is emotionally attached to, and that he has the required capabilities to win the cobbled Monument.

“The one he will concentrate on in the near future is Roubaix,” he added. “I’m not sure if he is the perfect fit for the race, but it’s a race that inspires him.

“He’s raced it a few times, he won it as an U23 rider, and it’s a race that often comes down to a one-on-one battle. You need a team at certain points, but when it’s one-on-one, that’s a situation that he can really excel in. 

“You saw it at the Olympics [in the team pursuit] when he had the Danish team in front of him. He saw that as a personal battle and that is what helped the Italians beat them.”

On stage five of the 2020 Giro d’Italia, Ganna unleashed a formidable solo attack 17km from the line to win what was, to date, only his first of two professional wins outside of an individual time trial.

But Cioni added that Ganna is not limited to his undoubted raw strength and ability to consistently put out high watts.

“He has the whole package,” he went on. “He doesn’t only have the power: when he won at the Giro and at Etoile de Bessèges, he rode them tactically well: he knew the moment to attack. 

“He didn’t win those days because he was the strongest guy: he won because tactically he can make the right move.

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“He also has really impressive focus and he can really go all in for one target, which I think he gets from his track background where there are only a few big goals each year, and if you don’t perform in those races, then you have failed. That is why he has won so many world and European championships medals.

“I don’t think he went to the last track Worlds for himself, but he wanted to win a world title in the team pursuit because he wanted his teammates to win. He’s a leader and he loves his teammates.”

Rumours are abound that Ganna might attempt the Hour Record in the latter part of next season, and may ride his maiden Tour de France beforehand, with two time trials that bookend the race suited to his characteristics.

“The calendar has not been finalised,” Cioni added. “It’s a big puzzle, but the Tour could well be one of his races. It’s still being discussed.”

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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.