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Ganna: Pogacar still a top competitor for Tirreno-Adriatico TT

AJMAN UNITED ARAB EMIRATES FEBRUARY 22 Filippo Ganna of Italy and Team INEOS Grenadiers sprints during the 4th UAE Tour 2022 Stage 3 a 9km Individual Time Trial stage from Ajman to Ajman ITT UAETour WorldTour on February 22 2022 in Ajman United Arab Emirates Photo by Tim de WaeleGetty Images
Filippo Ganna (Ineos Grenadiers) in the UAE Tour 2022 time trial on stage 3 (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) may have himself admitted on Sunday that he was feeling the impact of a long solo to win Strade Bianche the day before but, given the rider’s history, even that is not enough for to stop time trial world champion Filippo Ganna (Ineos Grenadiers) from looking warily in his direction as he surveys the competition for the Tirreno-Adriatico opening individual time trial.

“We all know how good Tadej is and we hope he’s tired after what he did yesterday in Strade Bianche,” Ganna said. “He’s proving he’s always in great shape and arriving at the start of races in great form, so he’ll be a top competitor for tomorrow and the future.”

The 13.9km flat Ludo di Camaiore time trial, which starts the seven-day race, delivers a largely straight route along the Tuscan coast, with the exception of the turning point in the out and back course.

Even though Ganna, who so far this year has won two of the three time trials he has competed in, is likely to be at or near the top of the leader board on Monday after the opening stage he will then turn his attention to working for his teammates.

Ineos Grenadiers is lining up with Richard Carapaz and Richie Porte to focus on the overall, with the Australian who is retiring at the end of the season having earmarked the race as one he would like to win before ending his career.

“It’s difficult to think I can follow Tadej on the climbs, there are better riders, better climbers than me and it will be my job to help them,” said Ganna.

Those Ineos Grenadiers overall contenders will be facing up to not just Pogačar, 23, as a much touted favourite, but also the 22-year-old Remco Evenepoel (QuickStep-AlphaVinyl).

It will the Belgian's first time lining up in the same stage race as the two-time Tour de France winner, opening up the prospect of an intriguing competition between two of the highest profile figures from a new generation of riders, which has broken development timeline norms by rocketing up the ranks.

“Perhaps in a decade, people will talk about a special generation of riders after the success of Tadej, Remco and others,” the 25-year-old Ganna told Gazzetta dello Sport when asked if he was part of that special generation. “I feel part of it and hope to do as well as they are doing.” 

“But first we’ve got to write history before looking back at it and enjoying it.”

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