The astonishing downturn in the average age of cycling’s top riders continued in today’s stage, as the 24-year-old Filippo Ganna finished ahead of two even younger riders: the 22-year-old João Almeida (DQT), third in the Vuelta a Burgos in August, and the 21-year-old Mikkel Bjerg (UAE), three times the world under-23 time trial champion.
Resplendent in the rainbow jersey he won at Imola on 25 September, Ganna was only 11th through the first split at km 1.1, at a Category 4 climb where, bizarrely, the sprinters Rick Zabel, Peter Sagan, Davide Ballerini and Simon Guglielmi, set the best times. Then, on the 8.3 km descent, it was all about power, and Ganna pushed an enormous, 60×11 gear, through the second timing point at km 9.4 with a handsome margin of 11 seconds, and finished with a comfortable winning margin of 22 seconds.
But it was anything but a straightforward day of racing. Gusts of scirocco and rough Sicilian roads made it an unpredictable stage. Rohan Dennis spent much of his ride clinging to the drops as he endeavoured to stay in a straight line. Victor Campanaerts bounced off his bike on a corner. Miguel Angel López hit a bump while changing the position of his hands. He lost control and careered off sideways into the barriers. Two weeks after finishing 6th in the Tour, he probably wasn’t going to finish the Giro anyway, but leaving it in an ambulance cannot have been among his plans. He was the only abandon of the day.