Filippo Ganna wins Stage 1 of Tirreno-Adriatico, taking short individual time trial ahead of Remco Evenepoel
Filippo Ganna won the opening stage of Tirreno-Adriatico for Ineos Grenadiers in what is the race’s only individual time trial. He came home in 15’18’ ahead of Remco Evenepoel, with pre-race favourite Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) finishing in third place, 18 seconds back. Stage 2 sees the riders take on a 219km stage from Camaiore to Sovicille.
“I love this race and today I show how much I want to win this race,” said Ganna afterwards. “When you start there is a lot of headwind, we see the speed improve and at the moment, it is a good gap [to my opponents] but tomorrow is another day.”
Filippo Ganna of Italy and Team INEOS Grenadiers sprints during the 57th Tirreno-Adriatico 2022, Stage 1 a 13,9km individual time trial from Lido di Camaiore to Lido di Camaiore / #TirrenoAdriatico / on March 07, 2022 in Camaiore, Italy
Image credit: Getty Images
The race got underway on the sunny west coast of Italy, with a short individual time trial in Lido di Camaiore just to the north-west of Florence. The first of seven stages, this time trial was a real chance to lay down a marker in the race of the two seas.
It was a simple enough course too, one small right-hander towards the start and the hairpin at halfway as the riders turn for home. Defending champion and pre-race favourite Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) didn’t have last year’s rival Wout van Aert to contend with, the Belgian having opted for Paris-Nice this week with a quirk of the scheduling meaning these two races overlapped almost entirely.
He did have Evenepoel for company though, the Quick-Step AlphaVinyl rider the other pre-race favourite and one many have tipped for great things this season.
The course itself was flat and simply a race against the clock with the ominous mountains visible in the distance awaiting the riders over the following few days. Michael Matthews set the early marker for BikeExchange–Jayco with a time of 16’08’’, but with plenty of talent still to come.
The riders were setting off at one minute intervals, so it was action all the way with the sea sparkling behind, a chilly but sunny day and very decent conditions for this all-out effort against the clock. Alex Dowsett (Israel–Premier Tech) was another rider out early, but he looked comfortable throughout and his 15’42’’ looked a very decent time for the favourites to beat.
While all eyes were on Pogcar and Evenepoel, in terms of time trialling, it was Ganna who was expected to blow this one apart. The Ineos Grenadiers rider had previous in this race, not to mention a stellar CV when it comes to time trials. But with those three favourites set to start towards the end, Dowsett’s time proved competitive and he sat on top of the standings for much of the afternoon.
He was eventually pipped by Kasper Asgreen after a couple of hours spent watching his rivals finish, the Briton sporting a beanie hat as he shivered in the shade and not looking too disappointed when the Danish Quick-Step rider beat him by a second, releasing him to head back to the team bus.
'It's a special result' - Ganna thrilled with Tirreno-Adriatico win
Ganna was the next rider worth watching, but he had a dicey moment early on, nearly tagging the fencing as he took a wide racing line, and as such was much more careful on the sharp turn for home. Powering through the second half of the course, he soon passed the rider who started a minute ahead of him, not a moment Vincenzo Albanese would have enjoyed.
Wearing the rainbow jersey, Ganna crossed the line and destroyed Asgreen’s marker by 24 seconds to go top with a 15’18’’. But would that last? Evenepoel was on the course at the same time as Italian, and was only a couple of seconds down at the intermediate time check.
But he couldn’t find enough on the run in to the finish, nonetheless going second just 11 seconds back from Ganna’s impressive marker. All thoughts immediately switched to Pogacar who was the last off the ramp, and plenty of fans had stuck around to see the favourite, in top form after winning Strade Bianche last weekend.
But Pogacar looked slightly short of his best, already a handful of seconds down at the halfway marker. He did look smoother after turning for home, and made up time on the second half of the course, crossing the line in 15’35’’, losing 18 seconds to Ganna and more importantly, seven seconds to Evenepoel. He’ll be looking to make that time up starting tomorrow.
Stage 2 sees the riders take on a 219km stage from Camaiore to Sovicille, a slightly hilly route that is still expected to end in a sprint. Ganna will be in the leader's jersey, and is expected to hold onto it for a few days, with the sprinters looking to make their mark from tomorrow.