Filippo Ganna was fourth today, which was basically zero.
The odds-on favorite and world champion Ganna (INEOS Grenadiers) finished the short 13.2 kilometer time trial around Copenhagen in a surprising fourth place.
First, he was bumped down the leaderboard by Wout van Aert (Jumbo Visma), then Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) pushed him into third place and finally, the real shock, Yves Lampaert (Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl) kicked Ganna off the podium completely, winning the stage and the maillot jaune with a time of 15:17.
Poor Ganna. The wet and rainy course proved an extra challenge as he consistently had to stop pedaling and gingerly ease his Pinarello around the corners. Apparently he also suffered a puncture on the back end of the course. Not ideal for a massive engine that best functions in better conditions.
Perhaps the most shocked man in Copenhagen was Van Aert. After all, in six head-to-head battles in the time trial against Ganna, the Italian had three wins versus one for the Belgian. He had to feel rather relaxed in the hot seat, having vanquished Ganna, only for Lampaert to steal the yellow jersey he was about to slip on.
There’s plenty left on Van Aert’s agenda in this Tour. While the opening time trial just slipped from his grasp, he will hunt a green jersey and stage wins on any day that isn’t packed with hors categorie climbs. He is the Davinci of the peloton, a versatile master capable of almost anything.
His two GC captains, Jonas Vingegaard, (second in the 2021 Tour) and Primoz Roglic (second in the 2020 Tour) hit the line in eight and nine seconds behind their nemesis, Tadej Pogacar. Not a lot of seconds to lose in a three week grand tour. And surviving the slippery roads, the predicted high winds on stage two and three and the general guaranteed mayhem of the first week all make safety the first priority. It’s not like Pogecar landed a massive psychological hammer blow to the Jump Visma juggernaut.
Given that Adam Yates’ (INEOS-Granadiers) form was a mystery post-Covid, his result was impressive, losing only 18 seconds to Pogecar, the highest placed GC rider. His teammate Geraint Thomas was another handful of seconds back. While Aleksandr Vlasov (BORA-hansgrophe) got himself off to a decent start, 24 seconds behind Pogs.
While Romain Bardet and Thibaut Pinot are the perennial French hopes, neither comes to this Tour with true podium aspirations. That honor — and relentless pressure — falls on the shoulders of David Gaudu.
Bardet’s form is a relative unknown despite signs of friskiness in May’s Giro d’Italia. As far as Pinot’s plan, it appears the goal is to hunt mountain stages and avoid the crushing disappointment that always dogs him with crashes and illness. Rolling in with a firm hold on 114th place is basically mission accomplished. I love Pinot; I wish him well and that goes for Bardet too — a classy, thoughtful rider that I hope bags a stage.
This brings us back to Gaudu. From what little I’ve read, it seems that he has a different psychological makeup than Pinot or Bardet. Perhaps a little more selfish, a little more focused, a little over-confident in his abilities. I’m hoping he can shake up this race with a bold move in the mountains. Cuz why not? What does he have to lose? Well, specifically on the 13k time trial, that tab comes to 43 seconds behind the killer Pagoacar. Which, if we want to talk crazy, is a whopping one second faster than Nairo Quitnana.
Not the best start for Le Tour De France. But then, the French are always dreamers.