Top Ganna is ready to take off: for a titanic undertaking. For a few days our cycling champion has been in Mallorca to prepare for a season that will see him at work in many races and events, but certainly the number one objective is the Paris Olympic Games, where Filippo dreams of a feat: «I would like to win gold in the time trial and I would like to reconfirm myself with the quartet after Tokyo 2020. I have shown that I can reach the maximum in both. Except that in one I will be alone, in the other there will be 4 of us”, he said in Milan at the Giro d’Onore, on the occasion of the celebration of Italian cycling. SuperPippo, a 27-year-old from Verbano, has clear ideas, returning from a year with two important placings on the road, such as second place in the Sanremo and sixth in the Roubaix, without obviously forgetting the silver in the time trial of the World Championships behind Evenepoel, the Belgian was then beaten in Valladolid at the Vuelta di Spagna again against the clock. Furthermore, on the track, Pippo confirmed himself as world champion in the individual pursuit (a specialty which will not be Olympic) for the sixth time after the team silver. But Top Ganna, as he says in this interview, is not satisfied
Filippo, what was 2023 like?
“Intense. I am proud to have arrived in Madrid after days of suffering, finishing the last stage in second place. And I’m also happy to have finished a match like Il Lombardia that wasn’t suitable for me.”
What happens in a runner’s head after an unexpected event?
«It takes luck, if I also think about the falls. Every now and then I look at my scars and think, “I could have avoided hurting myself.” But then I think you always have to react to bad moments.”
He didn’t go far from winning Sanremo
«It’s true, this year several second places have been achieved which however I wouldn’t change for anything in the world. If you lose but you gain experience, push. At Sanremo it was a mental discussion. But there are sacred monsters like Van der Poel and Van Aert who to beat them you have to have a super day. It’s sport. Cycling is like that. But there is a desire to always get involved.”
Have you already planned for 2024?
«Finally we start again. He will make his debut in January in Australia both on the road, at the Tour Down Under, and on the track, in the World Cup to win the Olympic ranking points. I’ll do Sanremo and Giro and then we’ll see. I told the team (Ineos Grenadiers, ndc) that the objective will be the time trial at the Olympics.”
Is Roubaix shelved after this year’s good result?
«Sometimes 1% can make the difference in a classic like the Roubaix and I lacked a bit of “motor”. But it is logical that the Olympics come every 4 years and therefore evaluations will have to be made.”
At the Vuelta he was awarded by Indurain. Did he, who won the time trial in Atlanta in ’96, give you great advice?
«Olympic gold in Paris is something I’ve dreamed of for a long time. I’m someone who aspires to that result. But I’m not the only one.”
In France there is also the gold to defend with the quartet: the echo of the triumph in Tokyo with that sensational comeback still resonates today.
«I will try to get to 100% at the time trial and then give everything with my teammates. If you sit down, you fall behind. We will try to approach the approach with the same carefree and light-heartedness.”
How does she manage it, given the many expectations placed on her?
«Usually the evening before a race I am calm. Sometimes lightness needs to be masked and being in the second row can be good. We hope to have fun like in Tokyo.”
Even a captain like Geraint Thomas put himself at your service: what effect does it have on you?
«In the team I always did what was asked of me. Maybe because I have always taken one step at a time, respecting the “old people”, always giving everything for the captains. Thinking back to Thomas who started sprinting for me, I say that it’s nice that even the old people have respect for me. You don’t see many important leaders working for young people. This pleases me and I know that I have not taken over a role that is not mine, but I have earned the respect of the team and my teammates on the pitch.”
Leader on and off the field, but would you like to be a blue flag bearer?
«I see it as tough for a cyclist, after Elia Viviani was tough in Tokyo. Cyclists may have to wait for Los Angeles. At this point I would like it to be Tamberi.”
In Paris he will compete at the Saint-Quentin-En-Yvelines velodrome where he already won an individual world title and a team silver last year.
«There will be an audience, there will be a lot of people and we won’t be on the other side of the world like in Japan. Jet lag thanks…”.
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