The finale of the Spanish race was like a roulette wheel and, in the end, Giulio Ciccone lost the General Classification by a matter of seconds
It was a bittersweet finale for Trek-Segafredo at the 2023 edition of Volta Valenciana. Ciccone took second place in the final standings at the end of a stressful five days of racing and, in particular, a very hectic last stage. On the finish line in Valencia, Rui Costa (Intermarchè – Circus – Wanty) won with a 21-second gap over the leader’s group, tipping the situation in his favor and overtaking Ciccone in the GC.
For their part, Ciccone and the Team have little to regret. A hectic race was expected from the start given the tough course, the first-rate start list and the time bonus game. Giulio defended the jersey in the toughest moments of the stage and fought off the attempts of those who, with the little gaps in the GC, aimed to overtake him. Only an attack by the experienced Costa succeeded and with time bonuses on the line, the Portuguese won the race by 16 seconds over Ciccone and 19 seconds over Tao Geoghegan Hart (INEOS Grenadiers).
However, the Italian can find reasons to smile after the first race of the year: he won a stage, finished third in the queen stage, won the Points Classification and proved to be among, or maybe the, best climbers of race.
“It sounds cliche to say, but this is racing, this is cycling. Losing a race on the last day, by a few seconds and with a lot of tactics always leaves some bitterness. On the other hand, however, I’m not disappointed in myself. I raced at the best of my ability and on the climbs, my terrain, I showed that I was good, and none of the strong riders present here managed to put me in trouble. The dissatisfaction is there, but I think we have to give credit to Rui Costa and his ability. He is an experienced rider and he was able to take advantage of the last, and perhaps only, situation to turn the table.
“Valenciana was the first race of the year and I’m happy with my feeling, with the work I did in the winter. I kicked off on the right foot and this gives me morale for the long season ahead. I’m going home with a stage win and a solid performance; that’s something positive.”
A word from Sports Director Gregory Rast
“It was a very hard race. We had no easy days. It was very tactical, with the game for time bonuses at the intermediate and final sprints making a big difference. That’s the reason why today’s stage was so hard to ride and to read. Bora-Hansgrohe made the race hard, they isolated the leaders and, at the end, that created a sort of one-on-one fight. The stage came down to the wire and it was all about momentum going into the finish.
“We didn’t have a happy ending because we lost the jersey at the very end of the race, but today’s finish was a bit of a gamble. I also think we can be happy with how Giulio performed during the whole race. When the big names went super strong on the hard climbs, he really managed well. Of course he also won a stage and placed at the top in the queen stage. He’s really in good shape which is a positive sign for him and the Team in view of the upcoming races.”