Giulio Ciccone is set to lead Trek-Segafredo at the Vuelta a España, shouldering the responsibility of the team’s overall challenge from the start after unexpectedly falling into the role at the Giro d’Italia.
It is the 26 year old’s Vuelta debut – although he has ridden six editions of the Giro d’Italia and a Tour de France – and this is the Grand Tour he has been working toward this year, with his role as leader at the Spanish tour foreshadowed from the start of the season.
“We have a rider, Ciccone, who deserves the utmost trust and support,” Trek-Segafredo director Gregory Rast said in a statement. “For the first time in his career, he will race a GT as the sole leader, and we intend to put him in the best conditions to leave his mark. Being a leader means bearing the weight of responsibility, and for this reason, we need every teammate to give their best to help him.”
Alongside Ciccone when he lines up to start in Burgos on August 14 will be the experience of Kenny Elissonde and Gianluca Brambilla, who both have five Vuelta a España’s behind them. Spanish rider Juan Pedro Lopez and Antonio Nibali, will be there for the climbs, with Alex Kirsch and Kiel Reijnen for the flat and mixed stages. The 20 year old Quinn Simmons will also be on board to make his Grand Tour debut.
Ciccone best result at a Grand Tour so far is 16th at the Giro d’Italia in 2019 while riding in support of Bauke Mollema, although he may well have significantly improved on that if it were not for his crash in the Italian race this year. Ciccone entered it with the plan to attack and try to win stages, but ended up instead focussing on the overall after Vincenzo Nibali who battled back from a fractured wrist to line up, suffered a number of setbacks. He rose to as high as fourth on the overall and was sitting in sixth before a crash on stage 17, which led to him abandoning before the start the next day.
Ciccone will now have the opportunity to see just what he can do when he is the supported rider for the overall at a Grand Tour from the outset.
“Giulio’s skills are well suited to this race, that’s a fact, and that’s why it’s fair to aim, as a starting goal, for an important general classification placement," said Rast. "If we include this year’s unfortunate Giro, it will be only the second time he will try to measure himself on a three-week GC challenge, but we believe he has enough resolve and character to do well.”
Yaroslav Popovych, a Trek-Segafredo director at the race alongside Rast, said he believed the structure of this year’s race will make the GC quite unpredictable.
“I see at least five valid GC contenders, and if I have to point out the number one favorite, I say [Primož] Roglič, both for his strength and the desire of revenge that he will have after the Tour,” said Popovych.
“I expect Jumbo-Visma to be the reference team, the one that will try to control the race. But with so many opportunities to attack and several riders ready to put them in trouble, I can see an exciting challenge for the fans. Needless to say, we want to be in the game.”
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