Giulio Ciccone claimed a superb victory on today’s summit finish at Vallter 2000 out-sprinting the two pre-race favorites.
There was no time for his trademark celebration – throwing his 100% sunglasses to the crowd – as the battle for victory came down right to the line with Ciccone, Roglic (TJV) and Evenepoel (SQS) looking equally matched all the way up the final climb.
Ciccone took a perfect line around the final corner before powering towards the line with enough strength (in both body and mind today) to hold off his closest rivals for the stage win, Roglic and Evenepoel.
“The bunch, led by Bahrain, was setting a really strong pace as soon as we approached the final climb and then Chaves attacked. In my mind, I only had the idea that I needed to follow Evenepoel and Roglic. I just followed their wheels waiting for the last 500 meters. A sprint with Remco and Primoz made this win really special, it is maybe one of the best wins my of my career.
“After yesterday’s heavy crash of Dario, I promised the team today that I would do my best to win and dedicate it to him. Winning in this way has a special feeling and I really wish him all the best and that he recovers in the best way possible.
“In my last races I lost too many times, especially the one at Tirreno with Roglic. This time I was confident it could be a different outcome and I had very good feelings all day. At the end of the climb I was almost at my limit, but I wanted to play for the win for as long as I could. I don’t really know where I found the energy for this sprint but I just knew I really really wanted to win for the team today.
“For the moment, I want to enjoy this victory with my teammates and we’ll start to think about the GC from tomorrow. I feel good, the team is still strong even though we have lost Dario and now, unfortunately Kenny, but let’s see day by day.
“I have Tirreno in my legs, I had to dig deep there, but we will try to see what we can do in terms of the GC here. I came here first to win a stage and I’ve done that and, as a result, I’m in a good position now. If I can fight for the GC, I’ll do it but I don’t want to start putting too much pressure on myself right now after just two stages.”