‘Giving up the Giro breaks my heart’ – Trek’s Giulio Ciccone forced out of home tour by Covid symptoms

Italian was relishing leading Trek’s challenge at Giro that starts in his home region

Ciccone celebrates victory over Primož Roglič and Remco Evenepoel at Vallter in March's Volta a Catalunya
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Trek-Segafredo have announced that Giulio Ciccone won’t be able to lead their challenge at the upcoming Giro d’Italia as a result of ongoing symptoms of Covid-19. After delivering a positive test result for Covid on 24 April, the day after he had finished 13th at Liège-Bastogne-Liège, the Italian climber had been hoping that he might still be able to take his place in Trek’s line-up for his national tour, which starts in his home region of Abruzzo. However, he’s been unable to train since then due to sinusitis, a cough and fatigue.

‘Giving up the Giro breaks my heart. I can’t find any other words to describe my feelings right now,’ said Ciccone, who’s had a very strong start to the season, taking summit victory wins at the Tour of Valencia in February and the Volta a Catalunya in March, plus a string of high GC finishes. ‘I would have faced my favorite race after the best start to a season of my career. I would have started from home, from my Abruzzo; a historic event, even unique. Everything was perfect and then…’

Trek team director Gregory Rast admitted that Ciccone will be difficult to replace. ‘We are losing a very important part of our Giro squad. With his innate talent and with the great condition he has shown in the very first part of the season, Giulio had everything needed to be one of the protagonists of the race. We are sorry for him, because we know how much he wanted to be there, and it’s a pity that we won’t have our strongest man for the climbs,’ Rast said of the Italian, who’s a three-time stage-winner at the corsa rosa and was the race’s King of the Mountains champion in 2019 and runner-up in that competition last year.

The American team will announce the replacement for Ciccone on Tuesday, when they confirm their final line-up for the season’s first Grand Tour, which gets under way next Saturday (6 May) with a 19.6km individual time trial into the Adriatic port of Ortona. ‘Replacing a captain a few days before the start is impossible, as is finding someone capable of taking over his leadership,’ said Rast. ‘In the next few hours we will decide the rider who will take his place. We have some good options who, although in a different role, will guarantee their contribution to the team.’

Ciccone, meanwhile, will continue his recovery from his illness and use this setback as motivation for new goals, which will be revealed during May. ‘I have to swallow a bitter pill and the thought of what I could have done in this Giro will be in my mind for a long time,’ he said.

‘On the other hand, I have to listen to my body. I have to recover in the best way possible because the season is long and the risk of compromising it would be too high. It’s a tough decision, but I have to accept the fact and look beyond it. As soon as I return to racing, I will turn this disappointment into determination.’

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Peter Cossins has been writing about professional cycling since 1993, with his reporting appearing in numerous publications and websites including Cycling WeeklyCycle Sport and Procycling - which he edited from 2006 to 2009. Peter is the author of several books on cycling - The Monuments, his history of cycling's five greatest one-day Classic races, was published in 2014, followed in 2015 by Alpe d’Huez, an appraisal of cycling’s greatest climb. Yellow Jersey - his celebration of the iconic Tour de France winner's jersey won the 2020 Telegraph Sports Book Awards Cycling Book of the Year Award.