Ganna hits back at criticism over Ineos’ Milan-San Remo tactics

Milan-San Remo
(Image credit: Getty Images)

World time trial champion Filippo Ganna has hit back at criticism surrounding Ineos Grenadiers’ tactics in Milan-San Remo after the British team was rounded on for their performance.

The Italian took to Instagram to defend his role in the race, and the tactics used by the squad, after sections of the media and fans on social media questioned why Ganna had been used as a domestique rather than sent on the attack.

“For the last three days after Tirreno-Adriatico I’ve been suffering from a bit of flu (PCR rest negative so nothing to worry about). The (tactical) decisions for Milan-San Remo are a consequence of that,” he said on social media.

“So please let’s not all play at being a DS with all the ifs and buts. See you at the next races."

The squad lined up with Ganna, former winner Michal Kwiatkowski, Luke Rowe, and Tom Pidcock in their ranks, and they had numbers on the Cipressa and the Poggio as the race unfolded in the last hour. Rowe set a blistering pace on the Cipressa and on the run towards the Poggio, while on the final key ascent of the race, it was Ganna who set a fast tempo for the majority of the climb. 

The pace was high enough to see off a number high profile sprinters and stop attacks from their rivals until Ganna swung off and former winners Julian Alaphilippe and Wout van Aert put in a stinging attack after a turn from Dylan Van Baarle. Some critics felt that Ganna’s efforts only kept the race together for fast finishers Michael Matthews and Caleb Ewan, and that without a pure sprinter in the race Ineos should have been more adventurous with their firepower. 

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However, Pidcock was able to follow the moves from Alaphilippe and Van Aert, and he even managed to put in a short acceleration on the descent of the final climb – although he later admitted that he didn’t know the route off the Poggio well enough.

Ineos, as with all their rivals bar Team DSM, had no response when eventual winner Jasper Stuyven (Trek Segafredo) attacked inside the final two kilometers to seal a memorable win.

Pidcock was Ineos’ first finisher over the line in 15th place, while Kwiatkowski admitted on Twitter later that he simply didn’t have the legs to match the best riders on the Poggio or be a factor on the fast run-in to the finish. Kwiatkowski finished 17th, while Ganna crossed the line in 64th having sat up after doing his job for the day.

Italian broadcasters RAI began to dissect Ineos’ tactics almost straight after the finish. Some see Ganna as the next Fabian Cancellara and a rider who could have followed or even beaten Stuyven with a similar last-ditch attack.

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Daniel Benson

Daniel Benson was the Editor in Chief at between 2008 and 2022. Based in the UK, he joined the Cyclingnews team in 2008 as the site's first UK-based Managing Editor. In that time, he reported on over a dozen editions of the Tour de France, several World Championships, the Tour Down Under, Spring Classics, and the London 2012 Olympic Games. With the help of the excellent editorial team, he ran the coverage on Cyclingnews and has interviewed leading figures in the sport including UCI Presidents and Tour de France winners.