On the day where Egan Bernal wrapped up the overall Giro d'Italia victory, a great day for INEOS Grenadiers became even better as time trial world champion Filippo Ganna won the final stage ahead of Remi Cavagna (Deceuninck-QuickStep) in second, with Edoardo Affini (Jumbo-Visma) completing the podium in third.
Ganna had to overcome a puncture towards the end of his ride, but still posted a very quick time that averaged 53.8km per hour. The Italian star was one of the early starters, coming into the stage in 120th overall with the peloton starting in reverse order of classification as is customary in battles against the clock.
Ganna was powering through the course but punctured inside the closing kilometres, before changing his bike and stopping the clock on what would be the winning time.
"When I saw the puncture, I thought: 'today's unlucky, I've lost the race'," said Ganna on his time trial. "But I know I had a good gap to the second rider. I changed the bike really well, really fast, like a formula one race! And then when I crossed the line I thought: 'OK, now we will wait for Cavagna,' because he's a really good rider and time trialist."
Cavagna was indeed the man to be worried about, with the Frencham posting the second-fastest time whiel also suffering his own notable setback on course. Cavagna also lost significant time in the finale when he crashed after getting a corner in the final kilometre wrong. He managed to remount his bike and finish with a time just 12 seconds slower than Ganna's, but the crash might just have cost him the stage win.
"When I saw his crash, I thought: 'we have played with the same card, I punctured, he crashed!'," said Ganna.
Cavagna was disappointed at the finish, missing the chance to win the race, but had a similar attitude to Ganna in feeling that the two setbacks had evened things out and the Italian was the stronger rider on the day.
"It’s a real pity. I did a very good time trial, but I took the last turn full gas, as I forgot about it, and went down," Cavagna said. "I got back on my bike, but there was nothing more to do at that point, so it’s really frustrating, as I felt there was a chance for me to win today.
"I had an advantage - you lose at least 20 seconds when you puncture. Voila, I crashed to even things out. It is what it is. He was stronger today, I think. I'm still satisfied. The crash was quite spectacular but nothing is broken."
You can catch up on all the action from the Giro d'Italia by checking out the spoiler-free page which has links to all the main videos from the 21 stages of action at the Italian Grand Tour.