Giro d'Italia 2021: Italy's Filippo Ganna wins opening stage for second straight year

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Turin: Italy's Filippo Ganna won the opening stage of the Giro d'Italia for the second straight year on Saturday, powering to victory in the 8.6km time-trial through Turin.

World time-trial champion Ganna again pulled on the leader's pink jersey after finishing nearly 10 seconds faster than compatriot Edoardo Affini of Jumbo€"Visma in the race against the clock.

Ineos rider Ganna, a native of the Piedmont province in north-western Italy, last year won all the three time-trials in the race which took place in October due to the coronavirus pandemic.

But the 24-year-old had suffered from a recent slump in form, losing the time-trial on the final day of Tirreno-Adriatico in Italy in March to end an eight-race winning streak in the discipline stretching back to August 2020.

Ganna then went on to lose both time-trials on the recent Tour de Romandie.

"I didn't feel I was ready for this race," said Ganna, also a four-time world champion in individual pursuit, after Saturday's win.

"My morale wasn't great after the Tour de Romandie. Now it's back up!

"It's been a long time," he added.

"I hope to recover well by tomorrow because this is only the start of the Giro."

Portuguese Joao Almeida of Deceuninck-Quick Step, who was fourth on the stage behind Norwegian Tobias Foss, set the best time for the candidates for overall victory, 17 seconds behind Ganna.

Almeida's young Belgian teammate Remco Evenepoel was seventh fastest on his return to competition nine months after plunging into a ravine during a horror crash on the Tour of Lombardy last August.

Race favourites Simon Yates of Britain and Colombian Egan Bernal both finished one-second apart, but over 20 seconds adrift of Almeida, who finished fourth in the Giro last year.

Sunday's second stage is also in Piedmont, covering 179km between Stupinigi near Turin to Novara over plains which should again suit the sprinters.

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