Don't miss a moment from Paris-Roubaix and Unbound Gravel, to the Giro d’Italia, Tour de France, Vuelta a España, and everything in between when you join Outside+.
COGNE, Italy (VN) – After a full year when nothing seems to have gone right for him and he received a good deal of criticism for a string of disappointing performances, Trek-Segafredo climber Giulio Ciccone provided the best riposte to the naysayers with a hugely impressive Giro d’Italia victory at the Alpine town of Cogne in the mountainous Aosta region in the country’s north-west.
Having been in the break, which took some time to form on the road out of the start town of Rivarolo Canavese, Ciccone emerged as one of its stronger members on the penultimate climb of the Verrogne, then went solo on the long haul up to the finish, jumping away from his final companion, EF Education-EasyPost’s Hugh Carthy.
He ultimately ran away a convincing winner, his success completed with his signature toss of his sunglasses into the crowds cheering him in.
It was the 27-year-old Italian’s first success since the Trofeo Laigueglia in the early weeks of the 2020 season. Since then, he’s been dogged by bad luck, injury and crashes that have prevented him from building on his stellar 2019 season when he won a mountain stage and the climber’s jersey at the Giro and then spent two days in the Tour de France’s yellow jersey.
“Over the last two years, I received a lot of criticism and had to accept that, although some of the comments made about me were very, very exaggerated,” Ciccone said.
“There were probably too many expectations, even though I tried to keep a low profile. I knew that I could count on the serious work that I always put in, and also on my family, my friends and in everyone who said ‘Cicco, I still believe in you,’ when things were very bad.”
The criticism resurfaced when Ciccone fell out of the Giro’s GC battle on his “home” stage on the Blockhaus, where many were expecting him to shine.
“It was a very bad day, especially because it was my home stage. I also felt very bad because on the rest day we stayed very close to my home,” he confessed.
“But at the same time I wasn’t surprised. I knew it was going to be very hard. I had troubles before the Giro but I knew that a good day was about to come.”
Describe Cicco’s win in 1️⃣ word
— Trek-Segafredo (@TrekSegafredo) May 22, 2022
Asked about his struggles over the last year, when he’d been primed as Trek’s leader at 2021 editions of the Giro and the Vuelta a España, Ciccone explained that he was beset by bad luck.
“Last year was a strange year. I had a great condition when I went to the Giro. I was fighting against the GC riders, but on stage 17, I was still in the top 10 when I had to abandon. That was the first time that I’d tried to go for GC,” he said.
“I tried again at the Vuelta, but then I crashed in the third week when I was very close to the top 10 in a race that had a very high level. I have to be honest, there are a lot of great champions like Tadej Pogačar and Primož Roglič in modern cycling and we have to accept they’re stronger.”
“As far as I’m concerned, it means that at the moment the best I can hope for is fifth or sixth place in the Grand Tours. I wanted to try for that this year, but everything went wrong after Tirreno-Adriatico when I got ill.”
Hit by Covid and bronchitis, Ciccone missed the Classics campaign and arrived at the Giro still a little below his best.
“It was hard to lose my hopes for the GC, but as I’ve said before that I was sick before the Giro and the team knew when I came into the race that it would be hard to go for GC. We fought for it, but after the Blockhaus, when we realised it was difficult to be up there, we switched our focus,” he said.
He said he’d received added motivation as a result of the 10 days his teammate Juan Pedro López spent in the leader’s maglia rosa.
“Juanpe is more than just a teammate. We did some altitude training together and I knew he was going to be strong in the Giro. It was strange to see him in the pink jersey, a very young kid, a very motivated kid, but it gave a real boost to everyone on the team,” Ciccone said.
“When I went clear, the guys in the team car were updating me on the gap, even though I knew that I was going to make it. They were telling me to be careful. All kinds of things were going through my head, but in the end I just wanted to enjoy seeing all of the crowds out on the streets. I’ve missed that feeling.”