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Filippo Ganna repeats as world time trial champion

Hugo Houle takes 20th place, his best ever result

The 2021 UCI Road World Championships in Flanders, Belgium, the centenary edition, kicked off on Sunday with the elite men’s time trial. Italian Filippo Ganna spoiled the Belgians’ day, beating Wout Van Aert and Remco Evenepoel to defend his world chrono title. Canadian champion Hugo Houle had his best ever career performance in a Worlds individual time trial at 20th.

You can watch Flanders 2021 at FloBikes.

Flanders was still reeling from the death of Danish ex-pro and TV commentator Chris Anker Sørensen, killed by a driver on Saturday as he was out cycling.

Jumbo-Visma’s German Tony Martin announced that the Worlds would be his last professional race. The four-time world time trial champion was in sixth in Saturday’s chrono and will be vying for gold in Wednesday’s mixed-relay time trial.

The course was a flat 43.3 between Knokke-Heist and Bruges with intermediate times taken at the 13 km and 33.3 km points.

After a dozen fellows began, there was a knot of chrono aces starting in close succession: Stefan Bissegger (Switzerland), Mikel Bjerg (Denmark), home favourite Evenepoel and Edoardo Affini (Italy).

Remco was dialed in on the start ramp.

Propelled by the cheers of the crowds lining the route, Evenepoel set the fastest split time at the first intermediate check with 15:47. He lost his bottle early but still set the fastest time at Check 2: 37:17. Bissigger hadn’t even found his way to the hot seat with 49:13, when the Belgian beat the Swiss time by 37 seconds.

Defending champion Ganna was the final rider to start, and Evenepoel’s compatriot Van Aert was the penultimate rider. However, it seemed that Evenepoel had to worry more about Dane Kasper Asgreen, this year’s Tour of Flanders winner, who was seven seconds faster than the Belgian at the first time check, and Swiss European champion Stefan Küng, who cracked Asgreen’s time. Van Aert beat them both.

Asgreen and Küng slowed down between the first and second time checks, but Van Aert was still faster than Evenepoel at Check 2. Ganna was only slightly slower than Van Aert.

Surely, it was now a contest between Van Aert and Ganna. Remco survived a close podium press from Asgreen. Finally, Van Aert knocked Evenepoel off the hot seat with 47:53.

Wither Ganna? The Italian measured his efforts superbly, beating Van Aert by five seconds. Van Aert was also second to Filippo last year at Imola.

Flanders 2021 continues on Monday with the U23 and elite women bombing a 33.3-km course.

Flanders 2021 Elite Men’s Time Trial
Gold: Filippo Ganna (Italy) 47:48
Silver: Wout Van Aert (Belgium) +0:06
Bronze: Remco Evenepoel (Belgium) +0:44
20) Hugo Houle (Canada) +3:03