Filippo Ganna (ITA - Ineos Grenadiers) pictured during 56th Tirreno-Adriatico, stage 7 ITT between San Benedetto del Tronto and San Benedetto del Tronto. Photo LB/RB/Cor Vos © 2021

Filippo Ganna is not a robot

Contrary to most available evidence, Ganna is human.

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The curious cycling fan has to cast all the way back to the Vuelta a San Juan in January of 2020 – in the Before Times, when we often ate at restaurants – to find a time trial that Filippo Ganna started but didn’t win. Until today.

Ganna won no fewer than eight TTs in the last year. He won all three at the last Giro d’Italia. He won the world TT championship and the Italian national championship. He won the TT in last year’s Tirreno-Adriatico by 18 seconds.

In Tuesday’s time trial at Tirreno-Adriatico, both Wout van Aert and Stefan Küng went faster.

“I showed that I’m human, not a robot,” Ganna said at the finish.

If you previously confused Ganna for a robot, you are forgiven. It’s an easy mistake to make. Over the final 2.2 km of this year’s Tirreno TT, Ganna produced an average of 585 watts, according to Velon, peaking over 700 watts. He averaged 53.7 km/h over the 11 minutes and 17 seconds it took for him to complete the course.

The stage felt like it was Ganna’s for the taking, a 10.1-kilometer romp through San Benedetto del Tronto nearly identical to the course he won on last year. A Venn diagram of 10 km time trials and bike races Ganna will probably win is just a circle.

It was thought that Van Aert’s efforts throughout the week, which already included a bunch sprint victory and an uphill finish ahead of the likes of Egan Bernal, would have sapped the Belgian’s legs ahead of such a violent time trial effort. But Ganna, too, put in a hefty workload over the last six stages, pulling for Bernal and Geraint Thomas deep into difficult parcours.

“I immediately felt my legs weren’t great, I felt it,” Ganna said. “I managed to pull back something but now we can only think to the next chance.” 

Ganna refused to make excuses – the wind on the return leg was high early in the morning, when he went off, and some said it lessened by Van Aert’s start time later in the day. He’d lost four seconds to both Van Aert and Küng by the turnaround, anyway.

The result was a reminder that there are no guarantees, and nowhere to hide, in the race of truth.

“I’m not sad,” Ganna said. “Every race is different. There is always someone who can be stronger.” 

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