Culture

Day in the life: Giulio Ciccone

Viva l'Italia! Nine questions with breakout Italian star Giulio Ciccone from his home in Montecarlo.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought professional cycling to a halt. In the coming weeks we will be reaching out to pro riders and other personalities from the sport to understand how their lives are continuing amidst the shutdown.

We are celebrating Italian cycling this week as the country leaves lockdown and begins a new life after Coronavirus. And while the Giro d’Italia may be postponed, that doesn’t stop us from honoring one of the cradles of cycling.

After a breakout year last year — one that included two stage wins in the Giro d’Italia and a stint in the yellow jersey during the Tour de FranceGiulio Ciccone was looking particularly forward to the 2020 season. And he got off to a great start by winning the early-season Trofeo Laigueglia race. But like the rest of the professional peloton, he had to flip on the standby switch as a result of the coronavirus crisis. And after spending most of the past two months in lockdown at his home in Monte Carlo, he is more than ecstatic to finally be getting out on his bike.

Location: Monte Carlo, Monaco

What are the current regulations for where you live about going outside?
Finally, we have been able to get out. I spent the two months in quarantine in Monte Carlo, where I live. But then in May, I returned to Italy to be close to my mother, who is being treated at the hospital in Chieti. I say “finally” because training in the open air, climbing real and not virtual climbs, is a feeling that was difficult to forget about.

Giulio Ciccone donning the yellow jersey
Giulio Ciccone wore the yellow jersey for a short time in the 2019 Tour de France. Photo: James Startt

What races were you planning to do that have been canceled or postponed?
After the debut in Laigueglia with the Italian National Team and in UAE Tour with Trek-Segafredo, I should have done Tirreno-Adriatico and Tour of the Alps to prepare for the Giro d’Italia, where I was planning to ride in support of Nibali. Then there would have been the Vuelta a Espana, where I would have been riding with Nibali and Bauke Mollema, but also having a little more freedom and trying to do well in the overall classification myself. Maybe even the World Championship. In short, a great calendar

What are you doing today?
Now that we can pedal for real and not virtually, I’m just enjoying the moment. For the past two months in Montecarlo, at the height of the health crisis, I did everything I could to keep myself active. I did the Everest Challenge. And I won’t hide the fact that activities on social media, such as the Instagram direct, have provided me with some company. But now that we have a real calendar perspective to focus on, I’m going to be spending more hours training outside. It’s been like a return to real life.

Are you doing a workout? If so, what specifically?
No, I’m not doing anything too specific because the return to racing is still a long way off. Working too hard at this point would be detrimental and harmful, but you can’t give up too much either. Training today is a balance between these two phases. The home trainer has been useful in this period and now I can push a little more, but in moderation. But workouts help keep me focused on the bike.

What indoor gear are you using?
I used the Saris H3 Smart Drive home trainer in quarantine. Zwift was my favorite platform, where I also rode the Everest Challenge and other events with the team. At the end of April I did a stage of the Digital Tour de Suisse on Rouvy.

What is your motivation for training right now?
Well, not an easy question to answer. In quarantine, on home-trainer, the motivation was that I didn’t want to lose the work done in the previous months to build the condition. The absence of perspectives on the calendar was the most complicated thing to stomach. Now that there is some hope, the motivation is to restart in the best possible way. We will have a condensed calendar that is just in a few months long. So you have to be ready in both the legs and the head. That will make all the difference.

Giulio-Ciccone laptop at home
Giulio Ciccone relied on video calls to stay in touch with family and friends while on lockdown. Photo: Giulio Ciccone

How are you communicating with friends and family?
Technology was my salvation. I was lonely in Montecarlo, but I did a lot of video calls. Now, in Italy, everything is simpler, and being in the so-called phase 2, we have the possibility to talk to each other in person while keeping our distance. I’ve really learned to appreciate some aspects of relationships that we all too often take for granted.

Have you received any helpful advice?
More than advice, I had a very useful exchange, first with the team, from general manager Luca Guercilena to head of performance Josu Larrazabal. They helped me a lot to deal with this phase, to manage me, not to think too much, which is perhaps the greatest risk to maintain serenity.

When do you think you’ll race again?
I want to hope and believe that the new UCI calendar can be respected. Though distorted, shortened, and condensed, it would still allow us to race and save this season. Obviously we all know that there are many variables at stake and it could still change. But I want to be optimistic. In terms of a calendar, we will know more in the next few days when we have the full picture of a national calendar.