Cycling-Ganna breaks Belgian hearts to retain time trial title

Cycling - UCI Road World Championships - Men's Elite Individual Time Trial - Knokke-Heist to Bruges, Belgium - September 19, 2021 Italy's Filippo Ganna celebrates with his medal on the podium after winning the Men's Elite Individual Time Trial REUTERS/Yves Herman

BRUGES, Belgium (Reuters) - Filippo Ganna broke Belgian hearts at the road cycling world championships in Flanders as he retained his individual time trial title by beating local favourite Wout van Aert on Sunday.

The Italian lagged behind Van Aert at both intermediate checks but he managed his effort better on the pancake-flat 43km course to clock 47 minutes 47 seconds.

Van Aert finished 5.37 seconds behind with another Belgian, Remco Evenepoel, picking up the bronze medal 43.34 seconds off the pace.

"In a week, my condition improved very well after a short camp in altitude," Ganna said.

"Today when I woke up I had a good feeling in the legs and the head did the rest."

Evenepoel clocked the first time of reference but Van Aert, who snatched silver in both the time trial and the road race at last year's world championships in Imola, Italy was already 28 seconds up at the first intermediate check.

Ganna lagged six seconds behind Van Aert after 13.8km with Swiss Stefan Kueng 17 seconds off the pace.

Van Aert increased his advantage over Evenepoel to 31 seconds at the second intermediate but Ganna was less than a second behind in a nail-biting finale.

The momentum had swung the Italian's way and Ganna punched the air in celebration after crossing the line.

Four-times time trial world champion Tony Martin of Germany, who said he would retire after the championships, finished sixth.

(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Ed Osmond)

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