Beautiful Redemption

Pure panache secures Giulio Ciccone a long-awaited win

Only 24 hours after Trek-Segafredo ceded the Maglia Rosa, Giulio Ciccone took the reins and delivered the Team a stage win in the 2022 Giro d’Italia. It has been a race to behold for the US-registered WorldTour team.

When Juan Pedro Lopez finished 2nd in Stage 4 and claimed the pink jersey, holding it through Stage 14, Trek-Segafredo’s Giro already has been its best in a few years, but when Ciccone grabbed a dominating and emotional solo win in Stage 15 – a day later – the Team topped all expectations.  And there’s still a week to go!

“I tried everything because my legs today were really good,” said an emotional Ciccone. “I think this has been my most beautiful victory. Even better than the yellow jersey in the Tour de France, even better than my first stage win in the Giro. This is my 3rd, but this has an indescribable value for me. It’s been a really difficult period when you try and try to win, and nothing happens. It really tries your mental strength. I did not feel like myself for a while, and I kept waiting and waiting, and today I found it.”

Ciccone was a man on a mission in Stage 15. He had good legs but even bigger motivation. When he joined the large breakaway group that formed on the first mountain of three in the 158-kilometer race, there was no holding him back.

“I think today I found my feeling again. It’s the way I approached the last climb, attacking, making the others tired. First we were 4, then 3, then 2 and then I decided to go alone. That’s my way to ride and I am really, really happy that I found again this feeling,” he said.

Dubbed as the Team’s general classification leader coming into the Italian Grand Tour, that goal was shattered on the first big mountain test of the race. If there was any disappointment, Giulio did not show it. Instead, he focused on supporting his teammate, who was having the most significant moment of his young career; the revelation of this year’s Giro.

“I knew I came into this Giro with some question marks,” Cicco explained. “The approach was not the best. I had to take antibiotics during the training camp, I missed Fleche, Liege, and this is why I decided to live this Giro day by day. Of course, I had the thought of GC but after Blockhaus it was clear this was not possible. Blockhaus was a very bad day for me physically but maybe more for my morale. But I promised myself after this that I was ready to change my race around and set new goals.”

When Juanpe’s pink jersey run ended on Stage 14, Cicco wasted no time on the Team’s next goal, jumping into the escape group on Stage 15 with teammate Bauke Mollema.

“I have an amazing team. We have a good spirit in the Team after 10 days with Juanpe in the jersey.,” he continued. “When we saw the GC was no longer possible, we switched our goal to go for a stage. Bauke was close a few days ago, and today we did it.”

Mentally and physically, Cicco was clearly the strongest of the 25-rider breakaway, and he didn’t even try to hide his cards. He attacked early and often until he was finally alone with 18 kilometers remaining.

“I tried and tried and tried, and then I went on the steep part because the last part of the climb was false flat,” explained Cicco. “In my mind, I said, ‘okay, if I go alone here, I can arrive because otherwise, in a sprint with 2 or 3 riders, you never know what can happen.”

“I tried everything because my legs today were really good. It was the best choice I could make.”

Giulio powered onward, increasing his gap and never letting off the accelerator. This was a long-awaited moment, and he was not taking any chances.

In the last kilometer, he had 90 seconds in hand, and plenty of time to zip up his jersey and let the beautiful moment take over. And in his trademark victory celebration, his Koos went to some lucky fan, again.

At the finish, he fell into the arms of his team staff. The emotions raw, real. It was his 3rd Giro win, but after a few years of struggling with injury and health – and just plain bad luck – his most meaningful.

“Since 2019, my best season so far, I think many bad facts happened and I was not able to show who Giulio Ciccone was. Especially last year I was really unlucky at the Giro and Vuelta. For me, I was always confident, but it’s always difficult to confirm yourself again,” added Cicco.

“Finally this win came. I really needed it because after a really difficult period I needed to raise my arms in the air again. I think today I can say I can start another career.”