The world time trial champion suffered a rare defeat in the discipline in his last outing against the watch, when he placed third behind Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) and Stefan Küng (Groupama-FDJ) on the final day of Tirreno-Adriatico. That result ended a sequence of eight consecutive time trial wins for Ganna, who will look to get back to winning ways at the Tour de Romandie, where Küng and another Swiss rider, Stefan Bissegger (EF Education-Nippo) look set to be his chief rivals on Tuesday.
“They’re Swiss and they’re obviously more at home than me. If everything goes like it should and I manage to win, then good. Otherwise, it means that I’ll need to work a bit more,” Ganna told La Gazzetta dello Sport.
Ganna opted to ride the Tour de Romandie rather than the Tour of the Alps ahead of the Giro because of the two time trials on the route. The race concludes on Sunday with a 16km time trial in Fribourg.
“That was a motivation. They can help your morale nicely – if you win! But it’s not a given. And I’ve never felt myself to be unbeatable,” said Ganna, who will line up as the overwhelming favourite to take the first maglia rosa of the 2021 Giro, which begins with an 8km time trial in Turin.
The Corsa Rosa features another time trial on the final day, though Ganna will also have a pivotal role to play in support of Ineos team leader Egan Bernal.
The Italian has trained at Mount Teide and on the track with the Italian national squad since his last race at Milan-San Remo.
“I think I’m improving. The numbers I’m seeing in training are good,” he said. “Above all, I did quantity at rhythms that weren’t so high: a bit like I did last June to start the build-up to the important events after the lockdown. Then I did intensity on the track and I’ll do it here in the race.”
Ganna is set to ride both the time trial and the team pursuit at the Tokyo Olympics as part of a busy 2021 programme, but there was a vocal constituency in the Italian press who felt he should have been handed a leadership role for Ineos at Milan-San Remo, where he set a fierce pace on the Poggio on behalf of his team.
He clarified afterwards that he had been suffering from flu in the build-up to the race, an explanation that still didn’t satisfy some critics of Ineos' deployment of Ganna.
“Do you know that someone even spoke about a conspiracy? [They were suggesting] that I’d been asked to write and say that I had a cold even if it wasn’t true… Let’s not even joke about that,” said Ganna, who during the off-season extended his contract with Ineos through 2023.
“I know how much the team cares about me and how much I care about all of them. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have renewed.”
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