Filippo Ganna was the favourite to claim the first yellow jersey of the Tour de France in the opening time trial in Copenhagen, but the world champion in the discipline had to settle for fourth place after he punctured in the finale of the 13.2km course.
Ganna finished ten seconds down on the surprise winner Yves Lampaert (QuickStep-AlphaVinyl), while he was also edged out by both Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) and Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates). The Ineos Grenadiers rider refused to blame his result on the rear wheel puncture, however.
“It’s not an excuse, I don’t think I lost because of that. That’s just how it went,” said Ganna, who didn't seem to know precisely when he sustained the puncture. “The pain in my legs was considerable, I was just trying to limit the damage.”
Ganna, like most of the stage and overall favourites, was among the early starters on Friday after the weather forecast suggested the rain would hold off until later in the afternoon. Instead, the Italian endured some of the worst of the conditions, though he wasn’t alone in that misfortune, as Van Aert and Pogačar were the next two riders down the start ramp after him.
Ganna had the day’s best time on crossing the finish line, but he lasted less than a minute atop the leaderboard, as Van Aert came home some five seconds faster. He would later be bumped down to fourth by Pogačar and Lampaert.
“With the rain, I didn’t feel at my ease on the corners, but on the straights, I was quite constant,” said Ganna. “It was supposed to be dry when I set off, but the roads were already wet and then it started raining. Like everybody, including Wout and Tadej, we set out early for that reason. We can’t have any regrets. There were just stronger riders today.”
Ganna held a perfect record in Grand Tour time trials before this Tour. After winning all three time trials on his debut at the 2020 Giro d’Italia, he won claimed both stages against the watch on last year’s race.
On Saturday, Ganna finds himself in the unfamiliar position of riding the first road stage of a Grand Tour without the leader’s jersey on his back, though the first week might yet present an opportunity to claim yellow, with echelons a possibly in Denmark and cobblestones a certainty on the road to Arenberg on stage 5.
“Now we’ll study the route of the coming stages, and we’ll see if there will be the possibility of inventing something,” said Ganna.
While Ganna’s time was affected by a puncture, his Ineos teammate Geraint Thomas was left to rue his absent-minded failure to remove his gilet before the time trial, though the Welshman rode strongly on the second part of the course to limit his losses to 25 seconds.
Adam Yates fared slightly better, placing 13th at 23 seconds, but Daniel Martínez had a subdued outing, finishing 33rd at 44 seconds.
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Barry Ryan is European Editor at Cyclingnews. He has covered professional cycling since 2010, reporting from the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and events from Argentina to Japan. His writing has appeared in The Independent, Procycling and Cycling Plus. He is the author of The Ascent: Sean Kelly, Stephen Roche and the Rise of Irish Cycling’s Golden Generation (opens in new tab), published by Gill Books.