Ciccone got back up after the crash in which a chainring hit his knee but suffered "a lacerated contused deep cut in the inner part of the right knee that caused functional weakness" according to his team. He later abandoned in tears.
"It's a very difficult situation to accept; I'm so sorry," said Ciccone in a statement. "After the Giro, I am forced to abandon again in the Vuelta in the key moment of the race.
"After the crash, I wanted to restart even if the pain was so strong. I really didn't want to give up, but at one point I couldn't pedal anymore. Leaving the race due to bad luck makes no sense, I have to get over it, but right now it's not easy.”
The Italian had been lying 12th overall, 6:16 behind race leader Odd Christian Eiking and within five minutes of defending champion Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma).
The team said after treatment from the Vuelta medical staff and team physician, Emilio Magni, further investigations were carried out at the Santandar hospital and X-rays revealed no fractures in his right hip and right tibia. Ciccone is set to return home to face the first part of a recovery that the team said would see him off the bike in the first days. Further steps and decisions on the next races are to be evaluated later.
It is the second time this season that the 26-year-old has crashed out of a Grand Tour. In May, Ciccone was in sixth overall in the Giro d'Italia when he suffered a high-speed crash on stage 17 on the descent from the Passo di San Valentino along with teammate Vincenzo Nibali and Deceuninck-Quickstep's Remco Evenepoel.
Ciccone finished the stage but lost eight minutes, then abandoned before stage 18 after a difficult night's sleep.
Ciccone was one of three riders to abandon stage 16 at the Vuelta a España along with Rudy Molard (Groupama-FDJ) and Sep Vanmarcke (Israel Start-Up Nation).
Thank you for reading 5 articles in the past 30 days*
Join now for unlimited access
Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
*Read any 5 articles for free in each 30-day period, this automatically resets
After your trial you will be billed £4.99 $7.99 €5.99 per month, cancel anytime. Or sign up for one year for just £49 $79 €59
Join now for unlimited access
Try your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
Get The Leadout Newsletter
The latest race content, interviews, features, reviews and expert buying guides, direct to your inbox!
Cyclingnews is the world's leader in English-language coverage of professional cycling. Started in 1995 by University of Newcastle professor Bill Mitchell, the site was one of the first to provide breaking news and results over the internet in English. The site was purchased by Knapp Communications in 1999, and owner Gerard Knapp built it into the definitive voice of pro cycling. Since then, major publishing house Future PLC has owned the site and expanded it to include top features, news, results, photos and tech reporting. The site continues to be the most comprehensive and authoritative English voice in professional cycling.