Giulio Ciccone calls an end to a troubled yet encouraging season

The Italian rider will skip the end of season races in Italy to fully recover from an injury he suffered at the Vuelta

What before was a hypothesis, has become reality, and not without regret. Giulio Ciccone has called an end to his season because of the consequences of a crash that forced him to abandon Vuelta a España. He will miss the last races in Italy, including Il Lombardia, races that were once attractive targets. For Giulio and his coach Josu Larrazabal, now is a time of reflection: between many unexpected events this year, Giulio can reserve important and encouraging hints.

Team physician Dr Nino Daniele explains a non-dramatic context for his injury from the Vuelta crash, but complex to the point of keeping Giulio away from the bike until last week.

“Giulio’s biggest misfortune was the dynamics of the massive crash occurred at the Vuelta. He was among the first riders involved and, as a result, he was among the most affected by the pile of bikes and riders that crashed over him,” explained Dr. Daniele.

“The first and most evident problem was the contusive trauma to the right knee and the deep wound, in the medial region, caused by a gear tooth, to which were added other contusions, mainly the one on the right shoulder. The medical checks carried out in Italy then highlighted a knee sprain, with consequent strain to the medial collateral ligament. These problems imposed absolute rest for almost three weeks.

“Since the beginning of the month, Giulio has faced physiotherapy treatments to reduce effects of trauma and recently started to ride his bike pain-free. These encouraging signs show that the problem is almost solved, but rushing the recovery to return to racing would be a big risk. The next races in Italy are hard ones and Giulio is not ready yet for such demanding efforts. By mutual agreement between team and rider, we decided to close earlier the competitions and to continue with a program to reach full recovery in view of 2022.”

SANTA CRUZ DE BEZANA, SPAIN - AUGUST 31: Giulio Ciccone of Italy and Team Trek - Segafredo abandons the race after crash during the 76th Tour of Spain 2021, Stage 16 a 180km stage from Laredo to Santa Cruz de Bezana / @lavuelta / #LaVuelta21 / on August 31, 2021 in Santa Cruz de Bezana, Spain. (Photo by Tim de Waele/Getty Images)

For Ciccone it is yet another bitter pill to digest in a troubled season. His two most important goals of 2021, the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España, went up in smoke due to a serious intestinal infection and a crash.

"For this last trouble, but in general for how the season went, the moral and mental aspect is the most annoying to face,” said Giulio

PICO VILLUERCAS, SPAIN - AUGUST 28: Giulio Ciccone of Italy and Team Trek - Segafredo competes during the 76th Tour of Spain 2021, Stage 14 a 165,7km stage from Don Benito to Pico Villuercas 1580m / @lavuelta / #LaVuelta21 / on August 28, 2021 in Pico Villuercas, Spain. (Photo by Tim de Waele/Getty Images)

“I’ve said it many times: against bad luck I can do little and brooding is useless,” said Ciccone. “So, I want to focus only on what will be. Before thinking about 2022, my goal is to make a full recovery. Every day, since my return to Italy, I’m focused on this. First with the medical checks and physiotherapy, now with slowly increasing the time on my Émonda. I believe this is the best way to react. I count on completing this phase before the start of the off-season in November.

“In addition, there’s an important mental work of programming and analyzing: putting together the pieces of the season that ended and setting goals for the new one. I’m very confident from this point of view because the work done this year, although it hasn’t been rewarded with victories, has been important. I was able to confirm myself that I took steps forward and, above all, that I still have a margin to grow. I better understood my weakness, on which I have to work, and my strength, on which I have to insist.

“I prepared for the Giro and Vuelta thanks to great teamwork, of which I am proud and happy. First of all, with Josu (Larrazabal), my coach, and then with the medical and team staff. There has been a work of analysis to address training and preparation. We know more about me, and this will be my strength, my biggest stimulus. I’m not ending the season with only disappointing performances behind me. We are convinced of this, and it will be the new starting point”.

Rather a restarting point, as pointed out by Trek-Segafredo’s head performance Josu Larrazabal, the one who has followed every detail of Cicco’s preparation since his arrival in the team in 2019.

“In January we were looking at 2021 as an important season for Giulio and in many ways  it was. The work of performance analysis, with measurable data, indicates to us that there has been progress. And from this basis we will build the future and set new goals,” explained Larrazabal.

“We cannot ignore the absence of victories and we are not looking for alibis. However, a lucid and objective analysis must take into account all the elements. In Giulio’s case, there are several that have not played in his favor. The season has been much, maybe too much, influenced by external and sometimes unlucky events. At Catalunya he suffered a back problem that started from a knee inflammation. Then, at the Giro, the crash and the infection, followed by an expensive Olympic trip to Tokyo, that included another crash, and finally the chase of the best condition at the Vuelta, still ended with a crash.

"In this unfavorable situation, positive signals have also emerged, data that make us say that Giulio has progressed" said Josu Larrazabal

“These are not victories, not UCI points, but they are fundamental indications for a rider who has not yet expressed his full potential. He almost won the first race of the year at the Tour de Provence, and he was strong at Tour du Var and Laigueglia.

“At the Giro he was second in a tough stage like Campo Felice behind Bernal and was firmly among the best in GC, as well as at the Vuelta. He has learned the management of a Grand Tour as a GC rider and has improved his TT skill, thanks to the help of Trek. These are measurable data that helps us to fully understand the season and marks the starting point for 2022.”