Giro d’Italia stage 15: Giulio Ciccone scores solo victory on Cogne summit as GC group hits pause
Ciccone keeps the Trek-Segafredo celebrations rolling with Alpine victory as Carapaz and the GC contenders recover from red-hot Turin stage.
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Giulio Ciccone (Trek-Segafredo) took a solo victory on stage 15 of the Giro d’Italia.
Ciccone kicked away from Santiago Buitrago (Bahrain-Victorious) and Hugh Carthy (EF Education-EasyPost) on the lower slopes of the day’s grinding summit finish to grab the third Giro stage victory of his career.
Buitrago crossed the line second, Antonio Pedrero (Movistar) third.
Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) and the GC contenders rumbled to the line together, more than seven minutes behind the leaders. After an explosive race Saturday, the battle for pink went on pause Sunday with no significant changes to the top-five overall.
Stage victory continues a stellar grand tour for Trek-Segafredo, which enjoyed 10 days in control of the pink jersey with Juan Pedro López until Carapaz seized control Saturday.
The result also sees Ciccone salvage something from a Giro that began with him as team leader before crumbling out of contention on Blockhaus last weekend.
You can see how much this meant to @giuliocicco1 😭 #Giro #GiroDItalia pic.twitter.com/PZeJ2aj5x0
— Trek-Segafredo (@TrekSegafredo) May 22, 2022
The only change in the top-10 saw Guillaume Martin (Cofidis) rise from 12th to 10th after he attacked on the penultimate climb, and stayed out until the finish to gain 1:42 on GC.
Carapaz was one rider to go down in a crash at the very start of the day, but appeared unhurt and never looked uncomfortable on the bike.
This was a day in which all the action came from the breakaway group, with Ciccone riding especially aggressively to provide the entertainment.
“The steep part of the climb was at the beginning,” he said while explaining why he attacked from the very bottom of the final climb.
“In my mind I say, ‘If I go alone here, I can arrive, otherwise in a sprint with two or three riders you never know what can happen.’
“I tried everything today because my legs were really good. Last year I think I was in good shape, but a bit unlucky in the Giro and a bit unlucky in the Vuelta [he abandoned both races]. There were so many problems, with COVID.”
A huge breakaway group
It took until almost halfway into this 177km stage for the definitive breakaway to at last form, and when it did, it was a very big one.
In full, the 28 riders who made it to the foot of the first climb of the day, the category one Pila-Les-Fleurs, were: Thymen Arensman, Nico Denz, Martijn Tusveld (all DSM), Antonio Pedrero, José Joaquín Rojas, Iván Sosa (all Movistar), Giulio Ciccone, Bauke Mollema (both Trek-Segafredo), Koen Bouwman, Sam Oomen, Gijs Leemreize (all Jumbo-Visma), David de la Cruz, Harold Tejada (both Astana Qazaqstan), Rui Costa, Davide Formolo (both UAE Team Emirates), Hugh Carthy, Merhawi Kudus, Julius van den Berg (all EF Education-EasyPost), Mathieu van der Poel, Dries De Bondt (both Alpecin-Fenix), Mikaël Cherel, Nicolas Prodhomme (both Ag2r Citroën), Santiago Buitrago (Bahrain-Victorious), Lawson Craddock (BikeExchange-Jayco), Rémy Rochas (Cofidis), Luca Covili (Bardiani-CSF-Faizanè), Natnael Tesfatsion (Drone Hopper-Androni Giocattoli) and Erik Fetter (Eolo-Kometa).
Bouwman attacked from out the group on that climb, and took maximum points at the top, by which point he had a lead of almost one minute over the rest of the break. The Dutchman was joined by Van der Poel and Tusveld on the descent, and the trio had an advantage of 1:40 by the foot of the second climb to Verrogne.
After the rest of the break had been thinned out from an increase in pace from Kudus on the climb, Ciccone launched an attack, and he, Buitrago and Pedrero went clear. They caught and passed the leading trio about 8km from the top, and despite a few more accelerations from Ciccone initially causing some consternation, this new leading trio eventually started working harmoniously together.
Three became four when Carthy bridged up to them just before the summit, and then four became six as Rui Costa and Tusveld joined them at the bottom of the descent, 27km from the finish.
On the final climb, Ciccone wasted no time reopening hostilities on the final climb by attacking right from the bottom, and only Carthy was able to stay with him. But Carthy was not able to respond when the Italian launched yet another vicious acceleration 18.8km from the finish, and dropped back to Buitrago.
Despite having the advantage of being able to work together on the climb’s shallow latter gradients, Carthy and Buitrago saw their deficit grow bigger and bigger, and had already grown to over one minute with 13km still to climb.
Buitrago dropped Carthy at this point, but wasn’t able to make any more inroads alone that he could working with the Brit, and Ciconne’s eventual winning margin was of 1:31
GC riders hold fire
After all the drama and action of yesterday’s stage, the GC riders had a much more subdued day today.
UAE Team Emirates briefly upped the pace on the second climb with their leader João Almeida second in the wheel, but Ineos Grenadiers soon took over again and set a steady pace.
There were no attacks from the top GC riders on this climb to Verrogne, although Guillaume Martin (Cofidis) did jump out of the group in an attempt to gain some time.
The lack of fireworks allowed Martin to stay out front, as he maneuvered his way through remnants of the break, and managed to stay clear and gain 1:42.
In the peloton, Ineos Grenadiers continued to ride tempo on the final climb, and still no attacks were forthcoming.
Results will be available once stage has completed.