For Trek-Segafredo, the Giro d'Italia is off to a very disappointing false start, even before it has begun. The U.S. team was supposed to head to the start on May 6th with top rider Giulio Ciccone, in his home region of Abruzzo. A corona infection threw a spanner in the works. On Sunday morning, the decision was made to cancel Ciccone's participation. IDLProCycling.com interviewed Giro team leader Steven de Jongh that same day.
Ciccone tested positive for Covid-19 a day after Liège-Bastogne-Liège. He had finished 13th just a day earlier, after an offensive race with teammate Mattias Skjelmose. "We have a strong sense of frustration and helplessness. I am struggling to find the right words to describe my sorrow," is how the Italian reacted to the situation. He has been (and still is) lying on the couch with a blocked nose, sore throat, earache, fatigue and a lot of coughing.
Trek-Segafredo gave Ciccone a little more time, but De Jongh says it quickly became clear that there was not going to be a happy ending. "We already saw it coming. He had been very sick all week and if there is no improvement, then you start thinking about scenarios for plan B," the Dutchman said, referring to the decision not to let Ciccone start. "Giving up on the Giro breaks my heart," the strong climber said about the situation. As such, De Jongh spoke to a dejected leader. "I sent him a message earlier this week and he was already very disappointed. I think he felt it coming."
Tour de France possibly a plan B for Ciccone
"The Giro started in his hometown and he was super motivated," De Jongh continues. "To miss that and to see the Giro peloton passing by your front door for a whole week, that's tough." On top of that, Ciccone was in top form at Trek-Segafredo. He already won a stage during the Tour of Valencia this year and even triumphed over Primoz Roglic and Remco Evenepoel in the second stage of the Tour of Catalonia. "A classification in the Giro was not the main ambition with Giulio. If he wants to finish in the top ten, he can also do that by chasing stage wins. But he is a rider who can finish in the top ten and even top five in a very good Giro, with the form he had. That won't be the case now and that's a shame."
For Ciccone and Trek-Segafredo, it is now a matter of adjusting to the new situation and both parties hope that the man from Chieti will recover from COVID-19 a bit faster than the first time COVID hit. "When someone is sick, you can't take them with you, the risks are far too great. If you take a rider who is not fit, the rest of the season can be cancelled. That's just not wise. The Tour de France? That could be a possibility, but first, we want him to recover from this. His lungs bothered him for a long time last time, and because of his asthma, corona always hits him hard. Later on in May, we will sit together to determine his program going forward.'
Given that a lot of riders got infected with COVID-19 from the Flèche Wallonne and/or Liège-Bastogne-Liège, De Jongh reports that no other riders at Trek-Segafredo have tested positive. The person who will be called up as Ciccone's replacement will be announced on Tuesday. Then it will also become clear whether Bauke Mollema and Daan Hoole - who are on the provisional list of participants - will be there on May 6th.
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