Geraint Thomas just missed out on a medal in the men’s elite time trial at the Road World Championships in Imola on Friday. But the Welshman declared himself happy with fourth place and encouraged by what he called “good signs” ahead of the Giro d’Italia, which begins in Sicily next weekend.
Thomas — who will lead for Ineos Grenadiers at the second grand tour of the season — set the fastest time midway through the 31.7-kilometre time trial, which was held in very windy conditions. But he then had to watch from the hot seat as first Wout van Aert (Belgium), then Stefan Küng(Switzerland) and finally Filippo Ganna (Italy) all went faster than him, bumping him off the podium.
Ganna is just 24 but already a multiple world champion on the track, in which he is the individual pursuit world record holder. The Italian, who like Thomas rides for Ineos, ended up obliterating everyone, setting a time of 35 minutes 54.10 seconds, at an average speed of 53kph.
That was 26.72sec faster than Van Aert, the Belgian fresh from his exploits at the Tour de France, and nearly 30sec faster than Kung. Thomas was a further 7sec back.
But on a windy day, and without his GPS device, which for some reason he had forgotten, Thomas declared himself satisfied with his effort. “The only issue was I didn’t have my Garmin,” he said. “Obviously I had the radio but I didn’t know about distance, or power or time. So I was riding completely blind. So I’m pretty happy with how that was really. But no excuses, I wouldn’t have won with Garmin or without.”
Thomas added that he was encouraged by his form ahead of the Giro, where this year there will be three individual time trials. “I think it’s good signs for the Giro,” he said. “So yeah, a decent day out. I would have love to have medalled but that’s the way it goes.”
Britain’s other representative, Alex Dowsett, was ninth out of a field of 57 riders, at 1min 6.38sec.
Meanwhile, Ineos Grenadiers have confirmed the capture of British talent Tom Pidcock, as exclusively revealed by Telegraph Sport on Sunday. The 21-year-old, a junior and U23 world champion in cyclo-cross, will join Sir Dave Brailsford’s team on March 1 next year.
“It’s clear Tom is one of the most exciting young riders in world cycling and part of a new era of incredible all-round talents,” Brailsford said in a statement, which also confirmed the signings of Trek-Segafredo’s Richie Porte, Jumbo-Visma’s Laurens de Plus and EF Pro Cycling’s Daniel Martínez for next season.