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Filippo Ganna on the right trajectory ahead of Milan-San Remo says coach

Prior to 2023, when Filippo Ganna (Ineos Grenadiers) came second at Milan-San Remo, he had never finished in the top 50 of the first Monument of the season.

The sixth outing at the race, however, saw a new form of the Italian star as he expanded his talents away from the track and time trial discipline and established himself as a real Classics contender, a rider who looked capable of competing for the biggest one-day wins. 

Not to say that Ganna’s success was previously only confined to racing against the clock, be that on the boards or the road, as he had after all won a Giro d’Italia mountain stage from the break and is a top-tier rouleur. Still coming second at San Remo and sixth at Paris-Roubaix last season appeared to reveal a new dimension.

He’s not had a flying start to the season, but his coach Dario Cioni believes he is on an upward trajectory and will be ready to contend with 2023 winner Mathieu Van der Poel (Alpecin Deceuninck) and Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) come the weekend.

“His fitness certainly seems to be on the upswing, because we didn’t start from the best Ganna,” Cioni told Bici Pro after Tirreno-Adriatico where Ganna took second in the individual time trial before working for Tom Pidcock and Thymen Arensman in GC.  

“He had a day in which he suffered from the cold, which affected him. But then the usual Pippo showed up again, putting in a series of excellent performances. 

“He was in the break, on Saturday he was in front and helped his teammates take the final climb with the leaders, showing that he was in good condition.”

Ganna was quite brilliant on the key Poggio climb at last year’s Milan-San Remo, responding to the last of Pogačar’s stinging attacks on the explosive climb. 

Van der Poel did subsequently counter-attack off the back of this after bridging across with Wout Van Aert (Visma-Lease a Bike) and went solo to victory, but Ganna showed that it’s a climb particularly suited to his powers.

“For all riders, the Poggio is one of the critical moments of the Milan-San Remo, unless Pogacar decides to make the Cipressa the critical moment. Until now the Poggio has always been the sector where the race has been decided,” Cioni said, unsurprised that Ganna was able to follow last year.

“The effort is quite similar to those made on the track. If we look at the peak maximal, the duration is very similar to that of the pursuit.

“Maybe the lighter riders have the advantage at the moment of attack. But once launched, if you are on the wheel you balance the difference due to the disadvantage of weight and aerodynamics.”

Cioni doesn’t particularly see Ganna winning in a similar fashion to Van der Poel with a solo move on the Poggio but did admit It depends on who is there towards the top of the 3.7km climb.

“I would say that for him going down the Poggio alone is much more challenging than going down it following the first rider,” said Cioni. 

“If he had managed to follow in Van der Poel’s wheel last year, it would have been different.”

Ganna’s sprint was powerful at the end of the three-man chase in 2023, gapping both Van Aert and Pogačar on the Via Roma for a memorable runner-up finish. If he is present after the descent of the Poggio, no one will want to take him to the line.

He will lead a stacked Ineos Grenadiers team, racing alongside Tom Pidcock with former winner Michał Kwiatkowski and former runner-up Ben Swift also present. Kim Heiduk, Jhonatan Narváez and Luke Rowe make up the rest of the roster that will start in Pavia. 

If Ganna is to become the first Italian to claim La Primavera since Vincenzo Nibali in 2018, Cioni believes he will need to produce a flawless 90 minutes of power when the longest race on the calendar reaches its dramatic crescendo. 

“To ride the perfect San Remo, you need an hour and a half of very high power,” he said. “You start to beat around the Tre Capi, then you need the approach to the Poggio and then 3-4 minutes on the Poggio plus the sprint.”

SOURCE: CyclingNews   (go to source)
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