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Despite working for Pirazzi, Ciccone emerged as the strongest from a 13-rider breakaway and rode to a solo win on stage 10 of the Giro d’Italia; Brambilla sacrificed himself for Jungels who took over the race lead

Photo: Sirotti










17.05.2016 @ 17:51 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Ciulio Ciccone (Bardiani) proved why he is regarded as the next Italian top climber when he rode to a hugely impressive solo win in the mountains on stage 10 of the Giro d’Italia. Having worked for teammate Stefano Pirazzi in a big 13-rider breakaway, the youngster turned out to be better than his captain and rode away from all his companions before motoring up the final climb to claim the win, holding off Ivan Rovny (Tinkoff) and Darwin Atapuma (BMC). Gianluca Brambilla (Etixx-QuickStep) sacrificed himself for teammate Bob Jungels to neutralize a late attack from Andrey Amador (Movistar) and the effort paid off as the Luxembourger took over the race lead.


When Bardiani announced that they had signed Giolio Ciccone who had just finished sixth in the Tour de l’Avenir, it didn’t get much attention in the cycling world. However, as soon as he started his neo-pro season, it was evident that the Italian team had made a coup.


Right from the start of the year, Ciccone was on fire, riding with the best in the hardest Italian one-day races and he was poised for a big breakthrough when he finished fourth in the first mountain stage at the Giro del Trentino. However, he fell ill just one day later and so had to postpone that breakthrough.


However, he didn’t have to wait long and when he finally made himself a household name in the cycling world, he did so on the biggest scene for every Italian rider. Having earned selection for the Giro d’Italia by with his excellent riding, he proved his huge class by winning the second big mountain stage in impressive fashion.


Ciccone had joined a big 13-rider breakaway that had escaped after a brutal first part of the stage that had seen Mikel Landa (Sky) leave the race due to illness. He found himself with some formidable company as he was joined by teammates Stefano Pirazzi, Nicola Boem, Damiano Cunego (Nippo), Darwin Atapuma (BMC), Giovanni Visconti (Movistar), Egor Silin (Katusha), Georg Preidler (Giant-Alpecin), Przemyslaw Niemiec (Lampre-Merida), Ivan Rovny (Tinkoff), Nathan Brown (Cannondale), Guillaume Bonnafond (Ag2r) and Riccardo Zoidl (Trek) and as the stage ended with the steep Plan del Falco climb, a technical descent and a 7km uphill drag to the line, he could easily have been intimidated by such a strong group of climbers.


After Boem had sacrificed himself for his teammates, it was a 12-rider group that approached the final intermediate sprint with 40km to go. On the small climb leading to the sprint, Preidler attacked to take maximum points before Pirazzi led Zoidl and Brown across the line. The Austrian decided to continue his attack and pushed out his advantage as he went down the descent to the bottom of the Plan del Falco climb.


Etixx-QuickStep had controlled the peloton firmly all day. Astana briefly moved to the front with Valerio Agnoli before Ag2r took over with Patrick Gretsch who led the peloton across the line in the sprint 4.22 behind the leader. Lampre-Merida quickly took over in the big fight for position.


Bonnafond and Atapuma took off in pursuit of Preidler but the Austrian had already built an advantage of 30 seconds as he entered the final 35km. Meanwhile, Boem was brought back by the peloton that was still led by Lampre-Merida until Christian Knees took over for Sky.


Preidler hit the Plan del Falco with a 30-second advantage over Bonnafond and Atapuma. Further back, Rovny launched an immediate attack right from the lower slopes and he immediately put Niemiec into difficulty. The rest of the group stayed together.


Lampe-Merida again took over the pace-setting and it was Matej Mohoric who led the peloton onto the climb 4.20 behind the lone leader. Pieter Serry was next in line for Etixx-QuickStep and he didn’t react when Alexander Foliforov (Gazprom) attacked. However, he quickly neutralized a short-lived move from Carlos Betancur (Movistar) and Bakhitiyar Kozhatayev (Astana).


Tom Dumoulin (Giant-Alpecin) started to suffer in the peloton as Serry slowly reduced the gap to 3.45 with 30km to go. Here Atapuma dropped Bonnafond while Cunego attacked from the chase group and quickly caught the Frenchman. They made it back to the Colombian as they reached the flat section at the midpoint 25 seconds behind Preidler.


With 25km to go, Zoidl and Brown attacked from the big chase group and they were quickly joined by Ciccone to form a second trio on the road. The trio caught the Cunego group with 22km to go when the gap had gone out to 30 seconds. Meanwhile, Niemiec was brought back by the peloton.


The big chase group came back together with 22km to go but Zoidl attacked again immediately. Cunego, Atapuma and Ciccone joined the move but the chase group again gathered as they went through Sestola for the first time.


The peloton brought Foliforov back but were losing ground as they reached Sestola 4 minutes behind Preidler. Moments later, Astana hit the front with Valerio Agnoli and his fast pace immediately sent Dumoulin out the back door.


As soon as the chase group hit the steep section, Ciccone went full gas to set Pirazzi up for the stage win. The pace was too much for Silin, Zoidl and Bonnafond who fell off the pace immediately.


Pirazzi launched his expected attack and only Ciccone could initially follow. However, Cunego and Atapuma quickly got back while Visconti, Rovny and Brown gave chase further back.


Tanel Kangert took over the pace-setting in the peloton and made the group explode to pieces as they hit the steep section. Michele Scarponi was next and in just a few hundred metres, he reduced the group to just Domenico Pozzovivo, Vincenzo Nibali, Jakob Fuglsang, Rigoberto Uran, Davide Formolo, Kanstantsin Siutsou, Bob Jungels, Diego Ulissi, Andrey Amador, Alejandro Valverde, Esteban Chaves, Ilnur Zakarin, Steven Kruijswijk, Sebastian Henao, and Rafal Majka and himself. Brambilla had drifted to the rear end and he was quickly distanced.


Preidler was caught by his four chasers before Ciccone made the next attack. Only Cunego and Pirazzi could follow while Preidler and Atapuma were picked up by Visconti, Brown and Rovny,


While Scarponi continued to set the pace, Sergey Firsanov was working hard to rejoin the peloton after having been set back by a mechanical and he sprinted past Brambilla. For most of the climb, he was dangling just a few metres behind the main group and passed Siutsou when the Belarusian was dropped.


Pirazzi tried to attack as the front group approached summit but he failed to get clear and so Cunego easily beat Ciccone in the KOM sprint. As soon as they hit the descent, Ciccone rode away from his companions while Scarponi continued to set the pace, leading the peloton over the top 2.30 behind the leaders. Fuglsang briefly took over but it was the veteran who guided the peloton down the upper part of the descent. Firsanov had regained contact just as they crested the summit.


Amador attacked on the descent and got an advantage of a few seconds while Brambilla slowly started to reduce his deficit which was only 11 seconds with 10km to go. Meanwhile, Kruijswijk and Majka miraculously avoided disaster after having touched each other.


Pirazzi crashed on the descent but was quickly back on his bike. However, he had been passed by the chase group which brought Cunego back too.


Amador extended his advantage and as Scarponi guided the peloton down the descent, Brambilla regained contact. They were 2.10 behind Ciccone when they hit the final climb. At this point, Rovny had attacked from the chase group and was in lone pursuit of the Italian neo-pro. Visconti, Brown, Atapuma and Cunego were further back.


Hesjedal and Siutsou also made it back to the peloton just as they hit the climb where Brambilla was forced to hit the front as Amador was a threat to his jersey. Ulissi briefly helped him but soon stopped his work.


Ciccone maintained his 30-second advantage over Rovny as he hit the final 4km while Visconti, Atapuma and Brown briefly dropped Cunego who managed to regain contact. However, when Visconti upped the pace again, only Atapuma could follow. Meanwhile, Amador had pushed his advantage out to 45 seconds.


Anton and Dupont rejoined the peloton where Brambilla was still doing all the work. Moments later, the race leader swung off, having sacrificed himself completely for Jungels who took over the pace-setting, trying to bring Amador back.


Visconti decided to wait for Amador as the stage win was no longer an option. While he tried to join his teammate, the Costa Rican passed Bonnafond, Pirazzi and Preidler before regaining contact with his teammate.


In the peloton, the attacking started when Zakarin made a first move and later Formolo also tried his hand. However, the climb was too easy to make a difference and instead Scarponi again started to ride tempo on the front, dropping Dupont in the process.


The effort made a big difference as Amador’s advantage was melting away but there was no one stopping Ciccone who rode to an impressive solo win, holding off Rovny by 43 seconds. Atapuma took third while Brown and Cunego also stayed away to round out the top 5.


Despite Visconti’s hard work, it was impossible to stay clear as Jungels was now going full gas in the peloton and so Alejandro Valverde caught his two teammates on the line when he won the sprint for 8th. However, he created a small split in the finale, meaning that Amador gained five seconds and Valverde four seconds on most of their rivals.


However, the big winner was Jungels who took over the race lead and now leads Amador by 26 seconds. He will have an easier day in tomorrow’s stage 11 which will see the riders cover no less than 227 almost completely flat kilometres. However, the stage has a nasty sting in its tail as they will go up the short and very steep Forcella Mostaccin climb with 19.3km to go and it will take almost all the sprinters out of contention. The final part of the stage has several smaller climbs, meaning that it is likely to be a day for the puncheurs or a breakaway.


A big mountain stage

After the rest day, there was no mercy for the tired riders who faced a very tough mountain stage on the 10th day of racing. The course brought them over 219km from Campi Bisenzio to a summit finish in Sestola and there was barely a single metre of flat roads. The riders tackled two early category 3 climbs and then faced rolling terrain for most of the day until they hit the hard Plan del Falco climb in the end. The final three kilometres of the category 3 ascent averaged 8.9km and was followed by 9km of very technical descending. In the end, the riders went up the 7km category 2 climb that averaged 5% and led directly to the finish.


Fabian Cancellara (Trek) who has returned home to recover after a hard spring, and Alexei Tsatevich (Katusha) who have been pulled out of his team for inappropriate behavior in the time trial, was absent when the peloton gathered under a sunny sky at 11 o'clock in the morning. As is always the case in big mountain stages, it was blisteringly fast stage. Johann van Zyl (Dimension Data), Vegard Stake Laegen (IAM), Damiano Cunego (Nippo) and Eugenio Alafaci (Trek) were the first to get clear but they were brought back after 6km of racing. Jack Bobridge (Trek) then briefly escaped but while Robert Ferrari and Carlos Betancur returned from mechanical problems, the Australian was also brought back.


Landa is dropped

It was a compact peloton that hit the day's first climb, and the many attacks meant that riders were immediately dropped. At the same time, Manuel Bongiorno (Bardiani) and Giovanni Visconti (Movistar) attacked and while they were trying to build a gap, the drama unfolded further down the climb. Mikel Landa (Sky) was distanced, and surrounded by several teammates he quickly lost a lot of ground.


Visconti dropped Bongiorno who was caught before Tim Wellens (Lotto Soudal) and Ivan Rovny (Tinkoff) were the first riders from the peloton 25 seconds later. Visconti continued his solo mission on the descent after an hour at an average speed of 39.4km/h before he was joined by first Nicola Boem (Bardiani) and later Przemyslaw Niemiec (Lampre-Merida). After 59km of racing, they had an advantage of 32 seconds while Landa had already lost six minutes. Further up the road, a group of about 50 riders could not make contact with the peloton and was three minutes behind the favorites.


A strong chase group is formed

The front trio increased the gap to 1.16 while Astana set a fast pace to keep Landa out of contention but they quickly slowed down. This meant that the gap to the front group had grown to 1.58 with 155km to go where the 50-rider rejoined the peloton. At the same time, the attacks started again as Giulio Ciccone (Bardiani), Darwin Atapuma (BMC) and Cunego tried to bridge the gap when they hit the day's second climb. Riccardo Zoidl (Trek) and Ivan Rovny (Tinkoff) tried a similar move and quickly joined the three chasers.


The lead had grown to 2.50 when riders again started to get dropped, and among others Arnaud Demare (FDJ) had to surrender quickly. At the same time the attacking continued as Guillaume Bonnafond (Ag2r), Stefano Pirazzi (Bardiani) and Georg Preidler (Giant-Alpecin) also made contact with the chase group. Egor Silin (Katusha) and Nathan Brown (Cannondale) also made contact which meant that 10 riders had gathered 2.14 behind the front trio.


Landa abandons

Visconti beat Boem and Niemiec in the KOM sprint before the peloton reached the top 3:17 later. Here it was finally too much for Landa who left the race with stomach problems, and thus Astana disappeared from the front, forcing Etixx-QuickStep to take over.


In the feed zone, the 10 chasers were 1.38 behind the leaders while the peloton had lost 3.31. From there, the gap to the chasers stabilized but the peloton continued to lose ground and was quickly 5.50 behind the leaders.


The front trio is caught

With Pirazzi in the chase group, Boem decided to drop back to support his leader and as he sacrificed himself completely, the gap started to come down. When it had dropped to just 30 seconds with 73km to go, Visconti decided to wait for the big group. Niemiec continued alone to make sure than he won the intermediate sprint and then waited too. Pirazzi was attentive and picked up a few seconds by taking second, with Boem rolling across the line in third.


In the peloton, Etixx-QuickStep were working with Fabio Sabatini, Lukasz Wisniowski and Matteo Trentin but they were not chasing hard yet. As they passed the intermediate sprint, they were 5.25 behind the front group after the gap had briefly reached 5.45.


Boem works hard

The heavy Etixx-QuickStep riders used an easier section to reduce the gap to less than 5 minutes but as soon as the terrain got harder, they again started to lose ground. Entering the final 60km, the gap was again 5.20.


The road leveled out again and this allowed the peloton to reduce the gap to 4.45 with 55km to go. Boem sacrificed himself completely for Pirazzi but as they hit the next climb, he swung off and lost contact with the group.


Puncture for Preidler

Preidler suffered an untimely puncture and had to work hard to rejoin the break. Meanwhile, the loss of Boem was costly for the break which saw the gap drop to 4.20 at the entrance to the final 50km. Boem managed to get back to take one final turn but as they hit the next small kicker, he was distanced for good.


Trentin, Wisniowski and Sabatini kept the gap stable at around 4.30 for a long time while the escapees worked well together to keep them at bay. Visconti tried a small move with 42km to go but the group stayed together as they approached the final intermediate sprint. Moments later, Preidler started the finale by launching a strong solo attack.



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