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It’s hard to forget Giulio Ciccone’s 2019 season. After moving into the WorldTour with Trek-Segafredo, he confirmed all expectations by winning two stages in the Giro d’Italia, as well as taking the best climber’s jersey, all before going on to grab the yellow jersey in the Tour de France.
Sure, Ciccone was no neo-pro, but he had already scored a stage win in the Giro when he was a rookie pro with the Bardini-CSF team in 2016. With the American outfit, however, he demonstrated that he could take his opportunistic style of riding to another level.
And after a season complicated by contracting COVID-19 and then undergoing nasal surgery to correct some breathing troubles, Ciccone showed at the recent Tour de la Provence that he appears back on track
On stage one, the 26-year-old Italian was one of the only riders capable of following world champion Julian Alaphilippe on a 70-kilometer breakaway. And although the group was finally caught in the final kilometers, Ciccone bounced back with strong second place the following day, only narrowly losing to sprinter Davide Ballerini. And Ciccone continued his strong performance in this four-day stage race with a solid performance on the Mont Ventoux, finishing with the first main group of contenders, barely a minute off pace of Colombian stage-winner Iván Sosa.
“Yeah, honestly I am very happy about the condition in my first race because I was sick in my last race in 2020 and it has been a long time since I have raced,” Ciccone told VeloNews before the start of the final stage in Avignon. “But I trained well this winter and I think my problems are behind me. It has been a good start and we will see how it goes in the next races as I move towards my first goals.”
For Ciccone, France has often offered fertile ground to hone his racing. Back in 2019, he started the season in the Tour du Haut Var (now called Tour des Alpes Maritimes et du Var). He was then constantly on the attack in Paris-Nice, where he laid the foundation for his stellar Giro.
“Yeah in 2019 I also had a good start to the season here in France, and the Tour de la Provence has been more or less the same, so I hope it is the sign of good things to come this season,” he said.
For Ciccone, the first main objective will once again be the Giro, where he will be part of the team’s triple threat along with Vincenzo Nibali and Bauke Mollema.
“The Giro is my first big goal and we will be there with three leaders,” Ciccone explains, insisting that he will have no goals for the overall classification, but instead will focus on stage wins. His role with change later in the year when he plans to lead the team at the Vuelta a España.
“That’s going to be different,” he admits. “It will be my first time racing the Vuelta and it will be my first time in a real leadership position.”
But while he is looking forward to the opportunity, he understands that his potential as a GC rider is still unproven. In French Provence, however, the Vuelta a España is on a distant horizon. And at the moment he remains focused on simply setting the foundation for a strong season. When it comes to the Vuelta he says simply, “We have a long way to go before that!”