After making it into numerous breaks during this year’s Giro d’Italia, Giulio Ciccone finally achieved a stage win by outsprinting Jan Hirt (Astana) in a wet and cold ending to the 194-kilometer mountain stage.
“For sure this is one of the best moments of my career,” said Ciccone when asked how he feels. “This is my second victory in the Giro, and the first was, of course, very good, but this stage for me was my dream. With the Mortirolo and the Aprica…this is an incredible moment for me.”
Ciccone has been content with the Maglia Azzurra of mountains leader, holding the blue jersey since the first day and only ceding it to teammate Gianluca Brambilla for one stage, but wouldn’t be satisfied with his Giro without a victory. He had red-circled stage 16, and when he pulled off the unbelievable win, his emotions erupted over the finish line.
“This stage was my favourite stage in this Giro with Mortirolo. When I knew I had won I yelled because I felt finally free of two years of frustrations since winning my first stage at the Giro and because there was a bit of everything today – the hills, rain, cold… And yes, because it was a bit nervous the finish. If you arrive with two riders, it’s always uncertain. I was nervous when Hirt was not working, as I didn’t know the distance to the others behind. But the day finished the best way possible. In the end, it’s okay like this,” said Ciccone.
Ciccone gained the maximum points on offer over the three categorised climbs in stage 16 and holds a lofty lead in the mountains classification, however, it was never his goal when he joined the 21-rider move:
“I also gained all the points in the mountains, and I have a good advantage in the classification, but I am very happy for the stage because it was the first goal for the team and me in this Giro. Now I also have this jersey, and for sure we will try to keep it.”