Filippo Ganna sacrifices Giro d’Italia pink jersey to work for Bernal

Giro d'Italia 2021 - 104th Edition - 4th stage Piacenza - Sestola 187 km - 11/05/2021 - Filippo Ganna (ITA - Ineos Grenadiers) - photo Luca Bettini/BettiniPhoto©2021
Filippo Ganna (Ineos Grenadiers) held the maglia rosa for the first three days of the 2021 Giro (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Filippo Ganna (Ineos Grenadiers) sacrificed any hopes of keeping his pink jersey on the road to Sestola, working generously for team leaders Egan Bernal and Pavel Sivakov on the flat roads and early climbs in the Apennines before finally being distanced with 40km to go. 

Ganna enjoyed two days in the Giro d'Italia leader's jersey after winning Saturday’s opening time trial in Turin and understandably filled the headlines in Italy after confirming his success of 2020.

Some of the Italian media and especially the Italian tifosi wanted him to fight to hold the maglia rosa as long as possible. Some even think he can be a future Grand Tour contender and should demand a bigger leadership role at Ineos Grenadiers.   

However, Ganna loyally stuck to team orders during the stage to Sestola and had no qualms in sacrificing his chances of staying in the maglia rosa. After all his hard work he finished 115th on the stage, 21:08 down on stage winner Joe Dombrowski (UAE Team Emirates), and so slipped to 115th overall.

Ganna kept a low profile after the stage, only speaking briefly to La Gazzetta dello Sport and sensing their would be a debate about him sacrificing the maglia rosa with such a generous ride for the team.  

"I’d said I’d work for the team and I did what they asked me to do," he said. 

"If there’s a polemic about it then they should come to me about it."   

Some of the Italian media had already criticized Ineos for not giving Ganna a protected role and a chance to attack on the Poggio at Milan-San Remo. The criticism re-emerged after the finish in Sestola.

Ganna had played down any tension in the team after Milan-San Remo by revealing he had been ill before the race. This time veteran television journalist Beppe Conti quickly criticised Ineos and Ganna for not respecting and trying to defend the maglia rosa

Conti suggested that Ineos got a good result thanks to Bernal but did everything else wrong by not putting a rider in the big break of the day, and by Ganna doing most of the chasing at the front of the peloton rather than getting Moscon, Puccio or Castroviejo to do it.        

“I can’t understand why he did it, it was very bad to see,” Conti told the Italian website Bicisport (opens in new tab)

“I’ve got a lot of respect for Ganna and directeur sportif Matteo Tosatto but it was a crime to see how they decided things. It’s right that Ganna works for Bernal but within limits. It’s one thing riding for 10km, but riding for half the day is something else."

With a number of rider in the breakaway well placed overall, Ganna was likely to lose the pink jersey regardless of whether he had remained in the peloton and climbed as well as the GC leaders, teammate Gianni Moscon and Alberto Bettiol. But there was still criticism.

“Ganna’s a champion but shouldn’t always be ready to work for the others, even if the others are Bernal, Kwiatkowski and Pidcock,” Conti said.

“It’s not all the team’s fault, he’s got to speak out too and make them understand. After wasting his chance at Milan-San Remo, today was another lost chance. I don’t want to see a third or fourth episode.

“Ineos is the right team for Ganna because they help him so much with equipment and they give him the freedom to ride the track and in the future the Hour Record. It’ll continue to be the right team for him as long as he speaks out and makes himself heard.”

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Stephen Farrand
Head of News

Stephen is the most experienced member of the Cyclingnews team, having reported on professional cycling since 1994. He has been Head of News at Cyclingnews since 2022, before which he held the position of European editor since 2012 and previously worked for Reuters, Shift Active Media, and CyclingWeekly, among other publications.