The Italian conceded his rainbow jersey after placing a disappointing 7th in Sunday’s individual time trial, but he was a key part of the Italian squad that took silver in the mixed relay team time trial on Wednesday. Ganna, Matteo Sobrero, Edoardo Affini, Vittoria Guazzini, Elisa Longo Borghini and Elena Cecchini missed out on gold by just three seconds to Switzerland.
Speaking in the press conference after the mixed relay, Ganna dismissed the idea that his performance in the individual time trial had been in any way compromised by his preparation for the Hour Record.
“I think it was just one shit day for me and it doesn’t matter. We close the book and we see for the future, for the next goal,” said Ganna, who acknowledged that preparing for the Hour Record on the track was not altogether comparable with training for a time trial on the road. The Italian is set to ride the Track World Championships in Paris (October 12-16) in the week after his Hour Record attempt.
“I think it is a little bit different. The Hour is a little bit more a constant in the pace, whereas here is a more intensive effort. Tomorrow morning at 6 o’clock I have a flight to go back home, and I will try to recover to try and do the best for October 8.”
Ganna and his Ineos team’s decision to tackle the Hour Record on the same day as Il Lombardia has elicited criticism in his home country, with RCS Sport calling on the former time trial world champion to find a new date. That plea was echoed in Wednesday’s edition of La Gazzetta dello Sport (opens in new tab) by former Hour Record holder Francesco Moser in an interview that ran under the heading ‘Ganna, listen to Moser.’
“Ganna could have waited,” said Moser. “After the Track Worlds, it would definitely get more attention. There wouldn’t be any more races and he would have had all the attention in the world. It would have been an event.”
The decision to press ahead with an Hour Record attempt on the evening of Il Lombardia has been defended by Ineos directeur sportif Dario Cioni, who said that October 8 was the only feasible date to tackle the record at Grenchen. Ganna had initially been slated to attempt the Hour Record in August after his Tour de France debut, but his levels of fatigue saw him postpone the effort.
“That day, October 8, is the only choice,” Cioni told La Gazzetta. “If we could move it, we’d have done it. But we can’t bring it forward, because the velodrome in Grenchen is booked up and we can’t go afterwards because there are the Track Worlds in Paris.”
Cioni ruled out the idea of tackling the record after the Track Worlds – “Too late: it’s already a risk doing it at the end of the season, especially when you’re prolonging the season for a rider who has already raced all year” – and he expressed bemusement at the furore caused by the October 8 date. “Instead of being an additional event on a great day of cycling in Italy, it seems that this is a problem. The only alternative would be not to do it.”
Cioni added that imminent changes to the rules regarding equipment meant that Ineos and Ganna were reluctant to postpone the Hour Record attempt into 2023. “The UCI rules regarding handlebars will change and this will make it obligatory to have a new design for the whole front part of the bike,” Cioni said. “Not doing the record would mean throwing away all the development and the year of work that Pinarello put in for this bike, and that isn’t respectful to them.”
Pinarello’s work has, of course, already borne fruit this year, as Dan Bigham, a performance engineer for Ineos Grenadiers, is the current holder of the UCI Hour Record. The Briton set a new mark of 55.548km on the velodrome in Grenchen on August 19, adding just under half a kilometre to Victor Campenaerts’ previous mark.
The knowledge gleaned from Bigham’s ride will surely benefit Ganna’s attempt – although, as Moser mischievously pointed out, it will also add to the pressure on his shoulders: “He has to beat his engineer’s record, otherwise it’s a mess…”