Filippo Ganna and Wout van Aert are arguably the best time trial riders in recent years, almost never off the podium in time trials of all varieties. However since August 2020, Ganna has won 14 out of 20 time-trials, even achieving an 8 time-trial streak win, including beating Van Aert twice in the World Championships.
However how does Ganna fare head to head against Wout van Aert outside of the long course one-day World Championship time trial? In their career Van Aert and Ganna have dueled against each other in a time-trial only on 6 occasions, the Italian winning five times. The only time Ganna lost to Van Aert against the clock was in 2021 Tirreno-Adriatico, where Ganna seemingly could not produce peak watts after a hard week.
Although both are always really close to each other, Ganna in the most important races like in World Championships and Olympic Games has been a little bit faster than Van Aert, who finished 2nd in both World Championships in 2020 and 2021 and has doubted if he should challenge Ganna for the rainbow bands in 2022 Wollongong time-trial to the detriment of his road race prospects.
Ganna vs Van Aert head to head in time-trials
- Criterium du Dauphine stage 4 2022. Ganna 35:32 vs Van Aert 35:34 (0.09% slower than Ganna)
- World Championships 2021. Ganna 47:47 vs Van Aert 47:53 (0.21% slower)
- Olympic Games 2021. Ganna 56:10 vs Van Aert 56:45 (1.03% slower)
- Tirreno-Adriatico stage 7 2021. Ganna 11:17 vs Van Aert 11:06 (1.62% faster)
- World Championships 2020. Ganna 35:54 vs Van Aert 36:20 (1.19% slower)
- BinckBank Tour stage 2 2017. Ganna 11:18 vs Van Aert 11:19 (0.15% slower)
Both their results (not just against each other) in the previous three years are incredible, winning and finishing in top 3 with a great rate.
Ganna’s time-trial ability took a big leap in 2019 when he moved from UAE Team Emirates to Sky/Ineos. He showed great results both on short 10 minute and 45 minute time-trials. Ganna in Tirreno-Adriatico 2020 set the San Benedetto del Tronto course all-time record, doing it in 10:42 with an average speed 56.636 km/h.
In 2020 and the early in 2021 season, Ganna was flying not just because he won 8 consecutive time-trials but because he won every single of them with a decent margin. He was faster than second place by at least 1% in every time-trial during that streak.
Ganna’s results in ITT since 2019
On the other hand, Van Aert has not competed in as many time-trials as Ganna in recent years, doing only 13 time-trials since 2019, while Ganna in this same time period did 29. When Van Aert does win, it is usually be a lower margin to second place compared to Ganna, as since 2020, he has not won a time-trial by a margin that is bigger than 1%. However it must be noted that Van Aert solely has lined up in time trials of the highest calibre, being Tirreno against Ganna, the Olympics, World Championships, Tour de France (and even the Belgian national championships) whereas Ganna does have some of his statistics skewed by time trials at Tour de la Provence and Etoile de Bessèges.
Van Aert’s results in ITT since 2019
On the hilly Tokyo Olympics course he lost 1 minute and 41 seconds to Primož Roglič, being 3.06% slower than the Slovene. In the famous La Planche des Belles Filles time-trial that decided the GC win in Tour de France 2020, Van Aert was 2.71% slower than Tadej Pogačar. The Tour de France champion destroyed Van Aert even on parcours that suited the Belgian in Tour de France 2021 stage 5, although Van Aert did not arrive at the Tour de France with ideal preparation, having to recover from a recent surgery. Pogačar when it matters in most in the Tour de France, can not only win but beat by quite a big margin, the world’s top time-trial riders.
Despite Ganna currently having the upper hand on Van Aert, their results against each other in World’s and the Dauphiné are so close that just a tiny regression from Ganna or a slight improvement from Van Aert could tip the balance in favour of Jumbo Visma’s star.
The next time-trial, where both giants will clash will be in Copenhagen, where the 2022 Tour de France starts. As you can see below, the 13 kilometre course is very technical with many sharp corners and is completely flat. Since 2019, Ganna has beaten Van Aert in every time-trial that is 35+minute long. The only short time-trial, where they both raced was in Tirreno-Adriatico 2021. Van Aert beat Ganna on the 10.1 kilometre-long San Benedetto del Tronto course, which is nowhere near as technical as Grand Depart in Denmark and Ganna also lost this year’s short UAE Tour time trial against Stefan Bissegger, who will in our opinion must be a top 3 favourite to take yellow in Copenhagen.
Ganna still probably will be the favourite by bookmakers to take the maillot jaune but everything might be decided by cornering skills and a few seconds here or there. Stefan Kung, Rohan Dennis, Mathieu van der Poel and even Mads Pedersen all have a good chance of winning. GC favourites Primož Roglič and Tadej Pogačar might not risk that much and likely will sacrifice a few seconds in the corners as they need to think about the big picture and three weeks. With the lack of long straights and punch needed out of the corners, conditions could not be better for Van Aert to overthrow Ganna on cycling’s biggest stage.