Second at Milan-San Remo sees Filippo Ganna raise 2023 Classics bar

 Filippo Ganna of Ineos Grenadiers
Filippo Ganna of Ineos Grenadiers

Filippo Ganna was originally not even supposed to ride this year’s Milan-San Remo but his assured performance on the Poggio and his second place in Via Roma has elevated the Italian to a new dimension.

He perhaps awoke tired and in pain on Sunday but is now a true Classics contender, a proven road racer and team leader at Ineos Grenadiers.

Ganna also gave the Italian tifosi someone to cheer for in their beloved Classic, with his return to the Ineos team bus after the podium ceremony attracting a bigger crowd than Mathieu van der Poel’s celebrations with his Alpecin-Deceuninck teammates.

Ganna is self-effacing about his talents but now knows he can one day win Milan-San Remo and other major Classics. He can travel to Belgium for the cobbled Classics with a smile on his face, a spring in his step and loftier ambitions.

He will target Friday’s E3 Saxo Bank Classic, Sunday’s Gent-Wevelgem and Ineos Grenadiers should arguably even select him for the Tour of Flanders, before he ends his spring Classics campaign at Paris-Roubaix.

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If Tom Pidcock’s spring has been compromised by mild concussion, Ganna appears ready to step-up and lead the talented young riders in the team alongside road captains Luke Rowe and Michel Kwiatkowski.

“This is a boost to my morale. For the first time Ineos selected me as a team leader and that motivated me,” Ganna revealed to La Gazzetta dello Sport’s Ciro Scognamiglio.

“I was nervous before the race but being team leader inspired me too, it made me realise that I’ve got some kind of talent. My teammates seemed to think so too and did an incredible job for me in the race."

“I can only thank our directeur sportif Matteo Tosatto for wanting me in the Milan-San Remo team. It wasn’t originally in our plans but it happened and I'm happy. Now I'm more aware of my ability. I’ve got more trust in myself."

“I’m still developing as a rider but I’m getting better with every season. I’ll be back at Milan-San Remo next year to try again. Now I want to go one step higher on the podium.”

Tosatto was emotional when he arrived at the Ineos team bus, knowing that Ganna had gone close to victory and made yet another significant step in his transformation from track pursuiter and time trial World Champion.  Now he is up there with Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates), Wout van Aert (Jumbo-Visma) and Van der Poel.

“I can only say ‘bravo’ to the guys and above all to Filippo. Look what he did on the Poggio!” Tosatto said of his fellow Italian.

“Pippo was there with Van der Poel, Pogacar and Van Aert, you can only applaud him for that performance.”

Tosatto, like Ganna, was happy but also disappointed after going so close to victory at Milan-San Remo.

“It’s not the first time he’s been in these situations because he has won before. But it was a strong sign about where he’s going in his career,” Tosatto argued.

“Let’s not forget it was the first time Pippo was at the front on the Poggio, so I can only applaud him. He was convinced of the plan beforehand. It’s the small details that make the difference in the head.”

“We’ll celebrate this second place, because it should be celebrated, then we’ll head to Belgium with a lot of confidence.”