Giulio Ciccone: My secret wish is GC at a Grand Tour

Italian speaks to GCN about his rollercoaster season, linking up with Tao Geoghegan Hart and other new Lidl-Trek arrivals, plus the pros and cons of the Giro d'Italia route

Clock15:23, Friday 24th November 2023
Giulio Ciccone in the polka-dot jersey as King of the Mountains at the 2023 Tour de France

© Velo Collection (TDW) / Getty Images

Giulio Ciccone in the polka-dot jersey as King of the Mountains at the 2023 Tour de France

Giulio Ciccone, the 2023 Tour de France King of the Mountains, says that fighting for the GC in a Grand Tour is one of his secret wishes.

The Lidl-Trek climber had a really good season, but not one of the luckiest.

He started the year with a win at Volta Valenciana and with another stage victory at Volta a Catalunya in an uphill sprint against Primož Roglič (soon-to-be Bora-Hansgrohe) and Remco Evenepoel (Soudal Quick-Step). However, Covid-19 stripped him of the possibility to race the Giro d’Italia, which started from his region, Abruzzo.

During the summer, Ciccone rose up again and managed to win a stage also at Critérium du Dauphiné, but his 2023 masterpiece was the polka-dot jersey that he was able to wear until Paris at this year's Tour de France. At the end of the season, however, he crashed at Tre Valli Varesine and he couldn't compete in Il Lombardia, the climbers' Monument.

“It has been a positive season for me from many points of view, but also a bit negative in other respects," said Ciccone, speaking to GCN at the A&J All Sports agency event last weekend Sunday.

“All things considered it was a good one and I rate it 8/10”.

A few months ago, 28-year-old Ciccone extended his contract with his team, Lidl-Trek, until 2027. The American squad have a big project in mind and have signed many important riders for next season, such as Tao Geoghegan Hart, Jonathan Milan, Andrea Bagioli and Patrick Konrad.

“Definitely there has been kind of a revolution in the team, and with the arrival of the new sponsor [Lidl] they have bigger goals and they want to improve the team. So it’s correct to rise the whole level,” Ciccone said. 

Among all the new riders in the team, the Briton Geoghegan Hart - winner of the 2020 Giro d’Italia - is, for Ciccone, the one with the most similar characteristics and the one that could share the leadership with him in the Grand Tours.

“Tao has already established himself as a GC rider, so by now we are two different kinds of cyclists,” he said. “I still don’t know if we will do the same Grand Tours in the next season First of all we have to understand our programs – we haven’t talked about it yet”.

After conquering three stages at Giro d’Italia - in 2016, 2019 and 2022 - and the mountains classification at the 2023 Tour de France, Ciccone now wants to try to fight for the GC in one of the three Grand Tours.

“Let’s say that a Grand Tour general classification is one of my secret wishes. For sure I want to try to fight for it one day. Let’s see when I will have this opportunity”.

Next year’s Giro d’Italia route has a lot of flat time trialling - 68 kilometres - which is not the favoured discipline for a pure climber like Ciccone, but his love for the Corsa Rosa is still fiery.

“Time trials are not the best for me, but for an Italian rider like me the Giro is always the Giro,” Ciccone said.

“I love it even if there are too many TT kilometres. Now the Grand Tours are like that, Next year we will have gravel at the Tour and time trials at Giro, Every race will have its own characteristics”.

The third week of the Giro d'Italia is usually full of really hard stages with a lot of huge mountains to climb, but not in 2024. Despite this, the Lidl-Trek rider thinks that the final week is not too easy and could offer surprises.

“When the elevation profile of a stage is easy, they are always the hardest days when everything happens,” Ciccone argued.

“I don’t mind about the route; the race is always made by the riders. I have seen bigger gaps in easy stages than in the really hard ones, and for the show sometimes it’s better like that.

“Honestly, I prefer hard stages because the short and crazy ones are always difficult to handle.”

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