Hindsight is at all times straightforward, after all, however Filippo Ganna didn’t fairly know the way to course of his second-place end at Milan-San Remo towards probably the most elite opposition possible. As ever, this race of virtually 300km was finally distilled to a sequence of split-second choices.
“Offended or glad? I’m nonetheless a bit in limbo,” Ganna mentioned when requested to place phrases on his emotions within the combined zone. “We haven’t analysed it but.”
The Ineos Grenadiers racer regarded to have performed the toughest half by resisting Tadej Pogacar’s anticipated onslaught on the Poggio, just for Mathieu van der Poel to dash away from the four-man entrance group simply because the gradient eased close to the summit.
The Ineos rider had locked himself confidently to Pogacar’s wheel on the steepest ramps, however now he hesitated as Van der Poel surged clear. Ganna most well-liked to depart the enterprise of closing the hole to the Slovenian or to Wout van Aert. Neither man might, and the second was gone.
Van der Poel swooped into the descent clutching a slender lead, however he eked out that benefit by sprinting out of each hairpin bend on the drop into San Remo. He would attain the Through Roma with a buffer of 15 seconds, whereas Ganna overpowered Van Aert and Pogacar to take second place.
“With the top I needed to observe, however with the legs, I didn’t know if I used to be prepared or not,” Ganna mentioned of his response to Van der Poel’s race-winning assault. “I most well-liked to not observe and possibly to see what occurred on the downhill or the flat. Perhaps if I had a magic 8 ball to look inside… Perhaps subsequent time I’ll attempt to observe.”
The hesitation appeared much more comprehensible when it emerged that Van der Poel’s time up the Poggio – unofficially clocked by La Gazzetta dello Sport at 5:38 – was a brand new document, beating the mark of 5:46 set by Giorgio Furlan in 1994. “If I can come again and rewind, I might have tried,” Ganna mentioned.
Aware of his limitations as a descender, Ganna most well-liked to depart the pace-making to Van Aert on the drop into San Remo, and occasionally, the Italian even risked shedding the wheel in entrance of him. By the point the highway flattened out inside the ultimate 2km, it already appeared clear that solely a late mishap might deny Van der Poel the third Monument victory of his profession.
Beforehand, Ganna had hoped to achieve that time within the entrance group after which look to copy Fabian Cancellara’s race-winning effort of 2008. “If we arrived in a little bit group after the downhill, the thought was to assault a bit like Cancellara, however not yearly is identical,” he mentioned.
As a substitute, Ganna caught with Van Aert and Pogačar onto the Through Roma, the place he then even perhaps stunned himself with the flip of velocity that carried him to second place. “It was three huge riders [chasing], however in the long run the collaboration on the downhill didn’t work,” he mentioned.
Ganna was lifted into the function of outright chief for Ineos after a concussion pressured Tom Pidcock to withdraw from Milan-San Remo. The Italian paid tribute to the efforts of his teammates on the ultimate 60km run alongside the coast. “I didn’t see something other than Luke Rowe’s again wheel and my teammates,” he mentioned. “They carried me a in a sort of bubble from Imperia to the Poggio.”
On the climb itself, in the meantime, Ganna lived as much as his finish of the cut price by being considered one of solely three riders to withstand Pogacar’s inevitable acceleration. Directeur sportif Matteo Tosatto prompt that Ganna was not the one man to be blindsided by the ferocity of Van der Poel’s subsequent assault.
“I had mentioned to be careful for Pogacar’s acceleration after which Van der Poel went… Filippo was on Pogacar’s wheel, so it was as much as Pogacar to shut there, however I feel all people had the identical legs by then,” Tosatto mentioned. “We have been afraid of the descent as a result of Filippo isn’t a fantastic descender, however he confirmed huge high quality right now.”
Tosatto was reluctant to counsel that Ganna should have tried to observe Van der Poel – “Let’s not overlook it was the primary time Pippo was on the entrance on the Poggio, I can solely applaud him right now” – however he confessed to gentle regrets when his rider proved stronger than each Pogacar and Van Aert within the sprint for the road.
“After I noticed the dash Pippo did on the finish, and the legs he had, possibly there’s a small remorse,” Tosatto mentioned. “However we’ll rejoice this second place, as a result of it needs to be celebrated, then we’ll go to Belgium with a whole lot of confidence.”
Ganna has already positioned second on the Vuelta a San Juan and the Volta ao Algarve in 2023, squeezing in a European title within the group pursuit for good measure, and the centrepiece of his Spring continues to be to return at Paris-Roubaix in three weeks’ time. Small particulars proved decisive on Saturday, however the huge image appears to be like encouraging certainly.