A fortnight on Friday, if all goes according to plan, Filippo Ganna will start his first Tour de France.
When he does so, the Italian will have more pressure on his shoulders than most.
For while most will focus on either individual dreams or team responsibilities, Ganna is that rare rider with both weighing on his mind.
Tour de France
Thomas part of three-pronged Ineos leadership at Tour de France, Pidcock makes debut
5 HOURS AGO
“The first big goal,” he tells the GCN Eurosport Cycling Show, “is the yellow jersey.”
Ganna’s remarkable record against the clock in recent years - he won the men's time trial at the World Championships in both 2020 and 2021 - means that anything less than victory in the 13km opening stage time trial in Copenhagen will be viewed as a disappointment.
In the 2020 and 2021 seasons he went to the Giro, winning six stages of his home Grand Tour, and wearing the maglia rosa for five days across both editions.
He is more than willing to acknowledge, however, that “the Tour is another level".
“We’ll see if the prologue can give me a good present, or if I will suffer for nothing,” he laughs. “We hope there is not a lot of strong wind and my legs can spin well.”
Whether he wins on Stage 1 or not, as soon as the rainbow-striped bike is back in the mechanics’ truck Ganna’s concerns will revert to the all-important role he is expected to play for his team. A decade on from Bradley Wiggins’ landmark victory, Ineos Grenadiers will be targeting their eighth Tour title.
Though their hopes of delivering Egan Bernal to a second victory in Paris were derailed by the Colombian’s horror crash in training earlier this year - on a TT bike no less - Ganna nevertheless believes “we have one of the most important teams, one of the most powerful teams at the moment.”

Ganna reflects on maintaining his 100 per cent time trial record this season

And, in Dani Martinez, a more than worthy understudy ready to step into Bernal's shoes.
“He’s really strong on the climbs,” says Ganna. “We will see on TV a great performance.”
The 25 year-old’s first major test on super domestique duty is expected to come on Stage 5, which finishes at Arenberg and features a total of 19.4km of the roughest French cobbles.
Ganna is hoping for a bit more luck on them in July than he enjoyed in April, at this year’s Paris-Roubaix.

'Greatness comes in the form of Ganna' - Wiggins on Italy pursuit gold

Then, punctures put paid to his hopes of achieving an individual result.
“After the mechanical problem, I needed to do an extra effort to get back into the bunch,” he remembers. Then, “in Arenberg, maybe I expended too much energy. In the two sectors after, seventeen and sixteen, I took the cobbled sector [from] a little bit behind the bunch. When there was the cut in the middle of the bunch [I had to put in] another effort to come back to the front.”
As disappointed as he was not to contend for the victory himself, with Dylan van Baarle bringing home Ineos Grenadiers' first ever 'Hell of the North', Ganna has to admit that “in the end it was a fantastic race".
Will he say the same of the Tour de France? We’re not far from finding out.
Tour de Suisse
'Corona has crept into the team' – Jumbo-Visma and Adam Yates pull out of Tour de Suisse
16/06/2022 AT 10:14
Critérium du Dauphiné
Ganna wins time trial, Van Aert second to extend overall lead
08/06/2022 AT 15:39