Lidl-Trek: 'We are not worried about the Giro after Giulio Ciccone's surgery'
GCN speaks exclusively to Lidl-Trek's team doctor and head of performance after Giro d'Italia hopeful is forced to take four-week break from training
© Sirotti Stefano
Giulio Ciccone is one of Lidl-Trek's flagship riders and has big ambitions for 2024
On Tuesday afternoon, Lidl-Trek revealed the news that Italy's Giulio Ciccone had been forced to undergo surgery for a perineal cyst, which would not only keep him off the bike for four weeks, but also curtail his plans to make his season debut at Tirreno-Adriatico.
After speaking to Ciccone's Lidl-Trek team, GCN understands that his schedule up to Liège-Bastogne-Liège had originally included Tirreno-Adriatico, the Volta a Catalunya and the Tour of the Alps, but these plans are now up in the air.
"Due to severe inflammation, the rider underwent surgery yesterday, Monday 5th February, to remove the cyst," read a statement from the team. "Doctors have imposed a four-week stop from any on-bike training, depending also on post-operative developments. The rehabilitation phase will follow.
"Ciccone, therefore, will not take part in the altitude training camp on Teide as planned and, considering the length of the stop, his season debut (initially planned for Tirreno-Adriatico) and further race schedule for spring is on standby. Further updates will be provided in the coming weeks."
For last year's winner of the King of the Mountains jersey at the Tour de France, the injury will come as a blow, with Ciccone having hoped to improve on his fifth-place finish at last year's Tirreno-Adriatico, and repeat his stage-winning antics at the Volta a Catalunya.
"'Cicco' is, of course, disappointed to stop his preparation and postpone his start to the season," Lidl-Trek's head of performance Josu Larrazabal exclusively told GCN on Tuesday evening.
"After a good season last year, the early part of the season is always suited well to him, he has always won races in this period so for us also the expectation is to start good and to enjoy the races. That is not the case and that is always disappointing."
The 29-year-old has not long since signed a fresh contract with Lidl-Trek, that will see him ride in the team's distinctive colours through 2027, and the Italian was in line to lead the American side at the Giro d'Italia.
There is still plenty of time between now and the beginning of the Giro, however, which starts in Turin on 4 May, and Ciccone's team are content with how the surgery went on Monday.
"Giulio is feeling well. In general, everything seems to be fine," head team doctor Gaetano Daniele added to GCN.
Dr. Daniele revealed that Ciccone's surgeon would personally treat the Italian's wound on Tuesday evening, and emphasised the importance of rest and recuperation over the coming weeks.
"Giulio will be strictly followed in the post-operative period. Now [he has] complete rest for 10 to 12 days. Then, new control by the surgeon for stitches removal. In that moment, it will be more easy to make a plan for a realistic and safe return on the bike."
Surgery won't hinder Giro d'Italia preparation
Motivation won't be hard to find throughout Ciccone's rehabilitation process, though, with the three-time Giro d'Italia stage winner determined to reach this year's Grande Partenza in Turin with a clean bill of health.
"In the last few years and especially last year, I had a problem just before the start," Ciccone said to GCN at the Tour de France Prudential Singapore Criterium. "I had Covid and so I changed the programme at the last moment. I still have this feeling that every year I miss something when I ride the Giro, so I would really like to try the Giro one year really focused."
- Read more: 'We like it as it is' – Ciccone questions need for change in light of new cycling league plans
As far as Lidl-Trek are concerned, the recent setback might well dampen their early-season expectations but should prove no barrier to success at the first Grand Tour of the year.
"For the Giro, there is still a long way to go, almost twelve full weeks until the Giro so we are not worried about the Giro," insisted Larrazabal. "'Cicco' has been doing a good winter so of course even if he needs to take a little rest, it is not like everything will be gone.
"Of course, it will have an impact on the coming weeks so we will reschedule a little bit the first races, but other than that, the April altitude camp and the programme stay the same and we are confident everything will be fine."
The former King of the Mountains winner at the Giro has not yet revealed whether he will target a GC push at this year's race - the lengthy individual time trials do not suit him - but one thing is for sure: behind Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) and Geraint Thomas (Ineos Grenadiers), the race for the podium looks wide open.
- Read more: Giro d’Italia 2024 route revealed
For all the important information about the 2024 Giro d'Italia, be sure to check out our dedicated race hub.