Worlds’21 Race Report: Filippo Ganna kept his time trial rainbow jersey with a very close battle with Wout van Aert. The Italian came back from an early deficit on the Belgian to win by 5 second. Remco Evenepoel was the early leader and held on for third place.
Filippo Ganna can call himself the World time trial champion for another year. The Italian beat the two Belgians; Wout van Aert and Remco Evenepoel.
The World Time Trial Championship goes from Knokke-Heist to Brugge over 43.3 kilometres and it is billiard table flat with only 78 metres of climbing. After a stretch of 1.5 kilometres along the beach, the course goes through the centre of Knokke-Heist. Then it heads into the interior of West Flanders. Long straight roads lead the riders through Westkapelle and Oostkerke. The route then makes a turn towards the coast, where the first intermediate point is located after 13.8 kilometres. Via Dudzele it goes in the direction of Bruges. After 20.8 kilometres there is a right again in the direction of Dudzele. From Dudzele, the riders will head south-east to Damme. Halfway down that long, straight road through the polder area, the second intermediate point is after 33.3 kilometres, 10 kilometres from the finish line. The finalé of the race is from Damme in the direction of Brugge and is largely in a straight line. The historic city centre of Brugge is entered via Sint-Kruis. It gets a bit more technical in the last 4 kilometres to the finish at ‘t Zand.
First man to finish (2nd to start) – Matteo Sobrero
Dan Bigham was the fastest for a short time
In the coming week, Flanders will be the setting for the World Championships and today the time trial Championships were the opener of a busy week of racing. The world’s best time trialists were at the start between Knokke-Heist and Bruges, although Olympic ITT champion Primož Roglič, former World champion Tom Dumoulin and two-time World championship winner Rohan Dennis were missing. The day was going to be a ‘four-man’ duel between defending champions Filippo Ganna, Stefan Küng and home favourites Wout van Aert and Remco Evenepoel, with a few other hopefuls.
Next to take the hot seat – Max Walscheid
Evenepoel was leading out on the course
The 58 participants were presented with an almost flat time trial of 43.3 kilometres on the coast and in the interior of West Flanders. On paper this was an advantage for powerhouses such as Ganna and Van Aert. Christofer Jurado Lopez was the first rider down the ramp. Jurado Lopez was not a serious candidate for a good final result.
Stefan Bissegger was also a leader, until Evenepoel came in
A storming ride from Remco Evenepoel to take the lead
After a minute silence for Chris Anker Sørensen who died in an accident on Saturday, Jurado Lopez started his time trial. In the first block a lot of unknown riders started after Jurado Lopez; Ali Jawaid, Ventantas Lasinis and Akramjon Sunnatov, and also Italian Matteo Sobrero who started second. The young Italian won the national title this year by beating Ganna. It was no surprise that Sobrero managed to clock the fastest time at the first intermediate point after 13.8 kilometres.
The last ever individual time trial for Tony Martin
A solid ride by the only Dutch rider – Jos Van Emden
With 16:25, Sobrero set the target time, but riders like Brandon McNulty and Max Walscheid soon proved that it could be beaten. Several riders managed to go under Sobrero’s time, but only when Remco Evenepoel passed through did we get a first indication of what was possible on the flat West-Flemish course. Evenepoel, one of the favourites for the World title, turned out to be 7 seconds faster than Edoardo Affini, 11 seconds below the time of Walscheid and was 13 seconds faster than the Swiss favourite Stefan Bisegger.
Leader at the first two intermediate time points – Wout van Aert
Filippo Ganna came back at Van Aert
Next we had to wait for Rémi Cavagna, Kasper Asgreen, Van Aert, Küng and Ganna, to see how the big guns would fare. Cavagna had lost 6 seconds after 13.8 kilometres, but Asgreen managed to set a new top time with 15:41 and was 6 seconds faster than Evenepoel. Küng was also well on his way and had an even faster time with 15:37, but Van Aert set a new standard with 15:19. Ganna’s time was 15:26, 7 seconds slower than Van Aert.
Tour winner Pogačar finished in 10th
Intermediate times after 13.8 kilometres
1. Wout van Aert – 15:19
2. Filippo Ganna – 15:27
3. Stefan Küng – 15:37
4. Kasper Asgreen – 15:41
5. Remco Evenepoel – 15:48
6. Ethan Hayter – 15:51
7. Tony Martin – 15:53
8. Rémi Cavagna – 15:54
9. Edoardo Affini – 15:55
10. Max Walscheid – 15:59
Asgreen looked very strong to finish in 4th
Evenepoel had already passed the second point and even though he had lost his water bottle, was able to lengthen his lead over Bissegger and Affini at the second intermediate point with 37:17. Evenepoel was cheered in the last kilometres by the over-enthusiastic Flemish public. At the finish, the man from Schepdaal clocked 48:31 and was almost three quarters of a minute faster than Bissegger, to the delight of the Belgian fans.
No medals for France – Remi Cavagna
A disappointed Stefan Küng
Van Aert was able to land the first blow at the first intermediate point, but a lot could still happen in part two of the time trial. Asgreen and Küng but both riders lost their power in the second part and had to concede time on Evenepoel, who had ridden very well. Van Aert was able to continue his effort and was just over half a minute faster than Evenepoel. But Van Aert was far from certain of the World title, as Ganna was able to accelerate towards the second and final intermediate point.
It was close, could Van Aert hang on?
Ganna lifted it in the finalé for the win
At the first intermediate point, the difference between the two was 8 seconds in Van Aert’s favour, but at the second point after 33.3 kilometres the lead of the home favourite was less than 1 second. Ganna had managed to over-turn his loss almost completely and we were heading for a nail-biting finalé. Van Aert still managed to get the most out of the last kilometres, but it turned out not to be enough for the World title.
Ganna finished in fine style
No hard feelings for Wout
2021 World Time Trial champion, Filippo Ganna (Italy): “I already felt that I had good legs this morning. However, I was in much better condition now than a week ago. I decided to schedule a short altitude training camp before the European Championships, but didn’t have super legs at the European Championship itself. I wasn’t sure if I could be in the right form today, but I already felt this morning that I had good legs. There is mutual respect. It would of course be fantastic for them to win in their own country. But sorry, I also had the dream to become World champion. I always want to win and prolong a World title. I have to thank them though, as we push each other.”
There is a lot of power on that podium
World Championships 2021 Men’s Time Trial Result:
1. Filippo Ganna (Italy) in 47:48
2. Wout van Aert (Belgium) at 0:05
3. Remco Evenepoel (Belgium) at 0:43
4. Kasper Asgreen (Denmark) at 0:45
5. Stefan Küng (Belgium) at 1:06
6. Tony Martin (Germany) at 1:17
7. Stefan Bissegger (Switzerland) at 1:25
8. Ethan Hayter (Great Britain) 1:26
9. Edoardo Affini (Italy) at 1:48
10. Tadej Pogačar (Slovenia) at 1:52
11. Max Walscheid (Germany) at 1:54
12. Jos van Emden (Netherlands)
13. Nelson Oliveira (Portugal) at 1:55
14. Rémi Cavagna (France) at 1:59
15. Jan Tratnik (Slovenia) at 2:04
16. Daniel Bigham (Great Britain) at 2:11
17. Mikkel Bjerg (Denmark) at 2:16
18. Lawson Craddock (United States) at 2:37
19. Ryan Gibbons (South Africa)
20. Hugo Houle (Canada) at 3:03
21. Matteo Sobrero (Italy) at 3:06
22. Brandon McNulty (United States) at 3:09
23. Tom Scully (New Zealand) at 3:10
24. Michał Kwiatkowski (Poland)
25. Carlos Rodriguez (Spain) at 3:24.