There was high drama from the outset of Tuesday’s stage 10 when Team Sky’s Landa – apparently suffering from an illness picked up on the second rest day – was distanced on the first climb of the undulating 219-kilometre ride from Campi Bisenzio.
If Landa’s shock withdrawal soon after was a bolt from the blue then the same could be said for Ciccone’s win.
In his first Grand Tour, the 21-year-old from Chieti in the Abruzzo region of southern Italy proved the strongest of a 13-man break that also included his Bardiani-CSF team leader Stefano Pirazzi.
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Ciccone broke clear on the descent of the penultimate climb of the mountainous stage before holding off Russia’s Ivan Rovny (Tinkoff) to take the first professional win of his career in some style.
"Today is the best day of my life. It’s a massive emotion – I can’t describe it – I don’t have any words,” a beaming Ciccone said. "I just want to thank my team and everyone involved.”

Ciccone rides to victory on Giro Stage 10

Jungels, the Luxembourg national champion and leader of the young riders’ classification, finished in a main pack of favourites 2:15 down on Ciccone.
Trailing Etixx-QuickStep team-mate Gianluca Brambilla by one second in the overnight standings, 23-year-old Jungels upgraded his white jersey for pink after the battling Italian was eventually distanced on the final third-category climb to Sestola – not before burying himself for the cause.
Jungels now leads Costa Rica’s Andrey Amador (Movistar) by 26 seconds in the general classification, with Spaniard Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) in third at 50 seconds. The top five is completed by Dutchman Steven Kruijswijk (LottoNL-Jumbo, +50) and Vincenzo Nibali (Astana, +52) while Brambilla drops to sixth at 1:11.
Italian veteran Damiano Cunego (Nippo-Vini Fantini) was part of the day’s break and took maximum points over the first-category Pian del Falco climb 16 kilometres from the finish to move back into the lead in the blue jersey mountains classification.
Cunego and Ciccone’s Bardiani-CSF team-mate Stefano Pirazzi struggled on the subsequent descent, the two riders once hitting shoulders on a tight bend just moments before Ciccone took advantage of their nerves by making his decisive move to the line.

Ciccone thrilled after claiming incredible stage win


Numerous moves were thwarted in a hectic opening two hours of racing before three riders – Giovanni Visconti (Movistar), Przemryslaw Niemiec (Lampre-Merida) and Nicola Boem (Bardiani-CSF) – edged clear after the second of four categorised climbs.
The leading trio were soon caught by 10 more riders as Ciccone and Pirazzi joined their Bardiani team-mate Boem on the front of the race in a strong break that also included Darwin Atapuma (BMC), Georg Preidler (Giant-Alpecin), Riccardo Zoidl (Trek-Segafredo) and Nate Brown (Cannondale).
With the advantage approaching five minutes, both Visconti and then Pirazzi had stints as the virtual maglia rosa before the Etixx-QuickStep team of Brambilla combined with Nibali’s Astana armada to keep advantage in check.
Preidler, the towering Austrian, made the first move from the break, attacking on the climb to the second intermediate sprint at Lama Mocogno with 40 kilometres remaining – at just about the same time as his Giant-Alpecin team-mate Tom Dumoulin was being dropped by the streamlined group of main favourites.

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Suffering from saddle sores, Dutchman Dumoulin – who led the race until cracking in Saturday’s tough stage 8 to Arezzo – eventually finished more than 13 minutes down to tumble back out of the top ten after his mini-revival in Sunday's sodden time trial.
And Preidler’s move offered Giant-Alpecin little tonic: the rangy big-ring rider was soon caught and passed on the steep section of the Pian del Falco by the strongest of the escapees. By now Boem had been dropped by the break and caught by the pack, the Italian’s pacing duties for team leader Pirazzi done.
Ciccone took up the baton, putting in a series of attacks which whittled down the lead group to just himself, Pirazzi and Cunego. It soon became clear that the young neo-pro was in better condition than his notoriously temperamental team-mate Pirazzi, a stage winner of the Giro in 2014 a year after his aggressive riding saw him pick up the blue mountains jersey.
And once Cunego attacked near the summit it was Ciccone and not Pirazzi who closed down the Italian veteran. When Pirazzi then locked a wheel on the descent, forcing him to steady himself against Cunego, Ciccone danced clear and never looked back.
Ciccone later gave a diplomatic appraisal of his team’s performance in the stage, paying tribute to the man who was no doubt Bardiani’s Plan A.
“It was interesting that Pirazzi was in the break as well,” he said. “He helped me a lot, he calmed me, because we had to help and support him. I’m just happy to win.”

Giro Extra : itw Ciccone

Image credit: Eurosport


Astana whittled down the main field to just two dozen riders on the Pian de Falco as Italian veteran Michele Scarponi and the versatile Dane Jakob Fuglsang came to the aid of their leader Nibali.
The pack passed over the summit two-and-a-half-minutes down on the leaders as livewire Andrey Amador bounded clear on the descent. With Gianluca Brambilla dropped two kilometres from the summit and Amador just 32 seconds down on GC, the Costa Rican rider clearly sniffed out a chance to don the maglia rosa.
But while Amador rode clear to join forces with Movistar team-mate Visconti on the final climb, Brambilla battled back after his own daredevil descent. Realising that his minutes in pink were numbered, Brambilla then buried himself for Etixx-QuickStep team-mate Jungels in a bid to reel in Amador and put Jungels onto the race summit.
It worked. Amador did manage to cut through the remnants of the break en route to finishing sixth in Sestola behind Ciccone, Rovny, Atapuma, Brown and Cunego. But following right in his wheel was the main pack, who were led over the line by Movistar team-mate Valverde just one second in arrears.
Brambilla came home just over a minute later. He’d conceded the jersey – and with it the chance to wear it as the race passes by his home town on Wednesday. But, crucially, the maglia rosa had stayed within his own professional family.
The new pink jersey was unequivocal in his praise of the outgoing incumbant.
“It’s the first time in my life that I’m in a leader’s jersey in a Grand Tour but it’s a jersey for the whole team who showed great spirit today,” he said. “We don’t normally see this in cycling where a leader of the race is pulling. It’s unbelievable [what Brambilla did today]. We’re good friends and we showed it today.”

Bob Jungels et Gianluca Brambilla (Etixx Quick Step)

Image credit: AFP

Jungels is the third Etixx-QuickStep rider to wear the pink jersey this year after Brambilla and the German sprinter Marcel Kittel, who won the first two road stages in the Netherlands on the opening weekend. Jungels is also only the second rider Luxembourg to wear the maglia rosa following Charly Gaul, who won the Giro in 1956 and 1959.
The race continues on Wednesday with the 227-kilometre stage 11 from Modena to Asolo – a pan flat affair until a fourth-category lump 20 kilometres from the finish.
Felix Lowe - @saddleblaze
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