For Giulio, 2022 is a season like no other. A great desire for revenge fuels his preparation towards a Giro-Tour combo
Here is an exclusive insight into the drive of Cicco ahead of his season debut.
A twist of fate or just mere coincidence? After five months away from racing, Giulio Ciccone will return to where he stopped: Spain. On August 31, 2021, at the Vuelta a España, the Italian was involved in a large high-speed crash that forced him to abandon. He left the race with a bruised knee and equally bruised pride, calling an immediate end to his season. On February 2 at the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana, Giulio will start afresh, pinning his first number to kick off the new season.
In these months Giulio has never shied away from the fact that 2022 has a different value, compared with the previous ones. 2020 and 2021 did not go as he wanted, partly due to more than a fair share of bad luck, and this was the subject of a long reflection during the winter break. But now, it’s time to focus only on the future. And for Cicco the desire for revenge is what prevails.
“This season brings different expectations,” says Giulio. “I feel the duty and the need to get results, for me and for the Team that has always believed in me. In the past, my debuts were accompanied by questions and conversation about my potential, my talent, how much I can grow, what I can achieve. With respect to everyone, I don’t want to discuss this anymore.”
I have an important year ahead of me and I want to compete with the utmost dedication. That’s my only thought. A great calendar awaits me, with the Giro - Tour combo which makes me so excited. All my energy, both physical and mental, is directed exclusively to racing.
“The post-2021 debriefing was very helpful in maturing this awareness. I spoke a lot with my coach Josu [Larrazabal] and Luca [Guercilena]. We analyzed the season from every point of view. What was missed, the bad luck that accompanied me but also the good things I gathered. It was the best way to put a definitive point on the season and to start with even stronger motivations,” explains Ciccone.
The past five months away from racing sent Giulio’s mind back to 2016, his first year as a pro, in which he had a similar experience. Due to a heart arrhythmia, successfully resolved with surgery, he had to pause for seven months. At the time it was a tough period, quite different from the one he has just experienced that, by Giulio’s own admission, literally flew by.
“I had quite a few weeks without a bike, something strange for my off-season standards. But every day, however, was full. The first two months after the injury, September and October, were all about healing myself. I had to make sure I could get back in the saddle without pain. Then, in November, I started the real approach to 2022, albeit gradually.
“The winter preparation was a little different than in the past. Training has been intense, as usual, but, in some ways a bit more relaxed. I did more endurance work, to increase aerobic capacity. Together with Josu, we decided to postpone the ‘quality’ work, the kind that gives you sharpness. The goal is gradual growth because what awaits me is a very demanding calendar. The Giro and Tour are the main events of my season and I want to get there in the best condition. But the calendar that will take me there won’t certainly be a walk in the park.
“There are races that intrigue me a lot, like Flèche Wallonne and Liège-Bastogne-Liège; races where I’ll be able to measure myself against the world’s top, like Tirreno-Adriatico and Volta Catalunya. But first, a challenging start of the season with Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana, Tour de la Provence and Trofeo Laigueglia. In this roadmap to the Giro and Tour, I’m sure there will be days where I’ll have my best feeling. Those will be the moments to make the most of to leave my mark.”
Speaking about Corsa Rosa and Grande Boucle, it’s impossible to forget how good Ciccone did in 2019 when he tackled them together. The Maglia Azzurra and a stage victory at the Giro, an impressive stage podium and the coveted Maillot Jaune for two days at the Tour.
“Beautiful and sweet memories, but in my head now there’s only the upcoming challenge. In modern cycling it’s crucial to have a program to be competitive in such demanding races. In mine, the Giro is the event that comes first and my efforts now are focused on that. I’m not referring just to training. There are mental energies that must be preserved. If I start thinking already to both the races, I wouldn’t be able to work with the right serenity. After the Giro I’ll draw a line and focus on the Tour. It’s not a matter of preferences or priorities, but only of planning to be able to ride both at my best.”
First of all, though, there’s a season debut to race, the seventh as a professional for Cicco and the fourth with Trek-Segafredo.
“I won’t deny that I feel a hint of trepidation about getting back into the peloton. Racing always brings with it an increasing level of stress, especially if you sit out longer than necessary. Keeping the best position in the group, facing a dangerous stretch, fighting for a placement at the end. It’s a routine, but never take it for granted. The desire to race, however, overcomes all worries: I can’t wait to be at the starting line.”