Two-time world time trial champion Filippo Ganna would be the runaway favourite to add a European title to his glittering palmarès at the UEC Road European Championships on Wednesday. The only problem is that the Italian isn’t starting the time trial.
Instead, Ganna, who showed his sprinting prowess with three second places at the recent Vuelta a España, will be targeting the 200km road race on the Col du VAM on Sunday.
Italian national coach Daniele Bennati selected Mattia Cattaneo and Matteo Sobrero for the 29.5km time trial, where they’ll face off against the likes of Wout van Aert (Belgium), Stefan Küng (Switzerland), Josh Tarling (Great Britain), and Rémi Cavagna (France).
Ganna will instead be focussing on the road race, which will see the peloton tackle seven ascents of the Col du VAM (400m at 4.2%) with a reduced bunch sprint expected at the finish.
He’ll head up a nine-man squad, which also includes several other fast finishers in Elia Viviani, Luca Mozzato, Andrea Pasqualon, and Matteo Trentin. The 27-year-old Ineos Grenadiers rider, however, represents the nation’s best chance at taking home the blue stripes of European champion.
Both Ganna and Trentin will co-lead the squad, Bennati told La Gazzetta dello Sport.
“It’s a group made up of many experienced elements, each with an important and well-defined role,” Bennati said. “We’ll race with the intention of supporting our two points of reference.
“Also with us is Elia Viviani, a great champion on the track and on the road and someone who is experiencing a particular transformation in his career. His presence is fundamental – he’s a team player and a great director. He gives an enormous added value to the team.”
Despite missing out on big wins with second places at Milan-San Remo and the UCI Road World Championships time trial, Ganna has enjoyed one of the best seasons of his career in 2023.
He has shown his ability as an all-rounder with his Vuelta sprints and second places at the Vuelta a San Juan and Volta ao Algarve and has also racked up time trial wins at Tirreno-Adriatico and the Italian National Championships.
On the track, he took a world title in the individual pursuit, narrowly beating Ineos adviser Dan Bigham, and also triumphed in the team pursuit at the UEC Track European Championships back in February.
With Sunday’s road race likely to be his last outing of the road season, Ganna will be aiming to add to Italy’s four European titles in the past five years, with Matteo Trentin, Elia Viviani, Giacomo Nizzolo, and Sonny Colbrelli all having won gold.
Vittoria Guazzini and Alessia Vigilia will take on the 29.5km elite women’s time trial, while in the 131.3km road race, Elisa Balsamo and Elisa Longo Borghini lead a squad including Silvia Persico, Sofia Bertizzolo, and Elena Cecchini.