Giulio Ciccone was a non-starter for the time trial, while Vincenzo Nibali started and ended the day in 5th place overall.
Ciccone withdraws from the Giro
Giulio Ciccone was an unfortunate non-starter for the 14th stage after diagnosed with bronchitis. In the last few days, Ciccone showed symptoms. In the morning ahead of the time trial, he underwent clinical tests at the Hospital of Conegliano, which confirmed the diagnosis made by the Trek-Segafredo team physician Dr. Emilio Magni.
The Trek-Segafredo management decided in agreement with Ciccone to withdraw him from the race to protect his health.
In September, Ciccone had a positive COVID-19 test leaving the Italian out of Tirreno-Adriatico, a key preparation for the Giro, and off the bike for two weeks. As a result, Ciccone came to the Giro not in top shape, but still enough to help Nibali, and hopefully ride into better form by the third week. Unfortunately, the weather did not play along.
“As already known, Giulio suffered from Covid-19 at the beginning of September, and his physical condition, although sufficient to be at the start of the Giro, could not be optimal. The difficult days we just passed, with rain and cold, affected his clinical frailty, and we believe that the choice to stop him is the most prudent not to overload an already tired physique,” explained Dr. Magni.
After starting the year with a win, it has mostly gone downhill for the 25-year-old Italian, hoping to build on a successful 2019. Ciccone was part of the Trek-Segafredo team at the UAE Tour when the pandemic first gripped the pro peloton. In the season restart, just as he was finding his race form with a strong 5th place in Il Lombardia in support of Bauke Mollema, he fell victim to the novel coronavirus a few weeks later.
“It has been a very troubled season, for many reasons, and unfortunately this withdraw seems a natural conclusion,” said a dejected Ciccone. “I am very sorry to have to stop here and not be able to give what I could in this Giro. Disappointments are part of a rider’s career and you have to accept them, but they do not bring you down. Now I want to think only about recovering and then, in time, we will plan the 2021 season.”
Ciccone was subjected to COVID-19 swabs from the beginning of the Giro, with the last one this morning at the hospital. All were negative.
Nibali defends 5th GC
Vincenzo Nibali finished in 23rd place in the 34-kilometer time trial, losing time to a few rivals, notably the top two in the standings in race leader João Almeida (Deceuninck-Quick Step) and Wilco Kelderman (Sunweb), but held strong against others in his continued fight for the overall podium.
Nibali started the day in 5th place in the classification. Although he lost over a minute to Almeida and Kelderman – leaving the popular Italian Trek-Segafredo rider 2 minutes and 30 seconds from the race lead – he remained in 5th, only 19 seconds from third.
“The analysis of today’s time trial should be done on a personal level, and also in comparison with others,” said Nibali. “For my part, the most objective numbers on performance come from my Garmin [power meter], and honestly, what I saw was comforting. My power was remarkable, in line with the expectations I had set with (Trek-Segafredo trainer) Paolo Slongo at the start.
“Also, my time was certainly not bad,” continued Nibali. “If I compare it with the others it was okay, with the only exceptions of Kelderman and Almeida, who went really strong, the pink jersey above all. Anyway, the real balance of the race must be done after tomorrow’s mountain stage of Piancavallo”
With four mountain stages to come, and the third individual time trial scheduled for the final day, there is still all to play for – who will be standing on the final podium is far from settled.