Bauke Mollema was full of praise for his teammate Giulio Ciccone on Sunday after the fifteenth stage of the Giro d’talia. The Trek-Segafredo Italian won the tough mountain stage to Cogne and thus dealt with two years of bad luck.
“It’s a great performance from Giulio,” Mollema told Eurosport after the finish. “I quickly saw today that ‘Cicco’ was very good.”
Mollema and Ciccone were both in a leading group of 27 riders in total, which was formed for the first of three cols. “We both wanted to participate in the early breakaway. But I didn’t feel so good in the beginning,” said the Dutchman, who finished eighth. “On the second climb I let a number of riders walk and I continued at my own pace.”
Ciccone did have a good day. On the second col of the day he joined the Dutch leaders Mathieu van der Poel, Martijn Tusveld and Koen Bouwman and on the long final climb he released all his fellow refugees. The climber from Chieti had a one and a half minute lead over number two Santiago Buitrago at the finish.
“This is my best win ever,” said Ciccone of the third stage win in the Giro of his career. “This is more beautiful than wearing the yellow jersey in the Tour de France and more beautiful than my previous two victories in the Giro, because I have had many difficult moments over the past two years due to falls, illness and COVID.”
Ciccone did not make it to the end of both the Giro and the Vuelta a España last year. “The form was good, but I had a lot of bad luck. I see this as a new start,” said the Italian emotionally.
Result stage 15 Giro d’Italia
1. Giulio Ciccone (Ita) 2. Santiago Buitrago (Col) +1.31 min 3. Antonio Pedrero (Spa) +2.19 min 4. Hugh Carthy (GB) +3.09 min 5. Martijn Tusveld (Ned) +4.36 min 6. Luca Covili (Ita) +5.08 min 7. Natnael Tesfatsion (Eri) +5.27 min 8. Bauke Mollema (Ned) st 9. Gijs Leemreize (Ned) s 10. Guillaume Martin (Fra) +6.06 min
‘Ride victory was a goal of ours’
Ciccone had carefully studied the route book for Sunday’s ride. “I knew that the steep part of the final climb was at the start and that I had to attack there if I wanted to finish alone. When you get to the finish with two or three people, you never know what will happen. I felt good and wanted to try it.”
The winner of the mountains classification in the 2019 Giro gave his team Trek-Segafredo the first stage victory of this Tour of Italy, after Spaniard Juan Pedro López had worn the leader’s jersey for ten days.
“Winning a stage was our goal,” said Mollema, who is also full of ambition. “We still have a beautiful, tough week ahead of us. Who knows what else is possible.”
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