Such has been the Italian’s dominance over the past 12 months, anything other than first place is widely greeted with some degree of surprise.
But the world champion was keen to point out that “second is still an excellent result” and that “a silver medal still goes into the palmarès”.
Ganna looked like he was heading for victory as he posted the fastest time at the half-way mark of the 22.4km Trento course and then turned into a tailwind for the run-in. However, the last rider on the course, defending champion Stefan Küng, rode a heavy negative split and crossed the line eight seconds to the good.
“We knew who were the opponents to beat. There were many champions and Küng was among those to keep an eye on,” Ganna said.
“I cannot consider second place a disappointment. What should those behind do in that case? Hang themselves?”
Ganna had already tasted gold at these European Championships, helping Italy to victory in the Team Relay time trial on Wednesday. He said he didn’t feel quite at his best on Thursday, but dismissed any suggestion he should have skipped the team event.
“I don’t regret anything. I don’t think that cost me that much energy. We are used to driving six hours a day in stage races,” he said.
“Yesterday [Wednesday] I became a nice European champion. I don’t mind having a gold and a silver on my shoulders. The sensations weren’t great in the morning, but I’d make the same choices anyway.”
The race was an important benchmark ahead of the World Championships, where the elite men’s individual time trial kicks off the event a week on Sunday. Küng has put himself right in the thick of the favourites list, while Remco Evenepoel showed he is close to his best again with third place at the Euros on a course that was arguably better suited to the bigger frames of Ganna and Küng.
Ganna made reference to the recent Olympics time trial, where, despite there being a runaway winner in Primož Roglič, the rest of the top four of Tom Dumoulin, Rohan Dennis, Küng, and himself were separated by just five seconds.
“It’s all so close together. Just look at the Olympics, where we finished with four within five seconds,” he said.
“Details make the difference, it’s about seconds. Every second gained makes a difference.”
The Worlds time trial takes place next Sunday in Flanders, and although it is flat like the Trento course, it’s almost twice as long at 43.3km.
“I’ve had a good workload behind me ahead of the World Championships, even if first we need to focus on Sunday’s road race,” Ganna concluded.
“I’m honestly happy. I won a silver medal, another one to add to my collection. I also remain confident for next week.”