The Giro d’Italia is like a comic strip, a story developed day after day by an eccentric artist who draws from a dizzying palette of colors. The first thing that catches the eye in and around the Giro is the colors that decorate Italy and its race. Different colors every kilometer, provided by jerseys and skies, walls and banners, flowers and flags. In the middle, immersed in the colors, are the protagonists of the race.
For the 2019 Giro, Castelli has created six jerseys that commemorate six special stages, designed to represent the Giro through the colors and symbols of the places that welcome the race. For each of these stages, the jersey will represent a virtual prize that will be awarded to someone who has earned it for a particular reason. It could be a current or former racer, a spectator, or a unique character in cycling and the Giro, because you don’t always need to win to be honored and remembered.
Each winner will be introduced with a short portrait, created in collaboration with the editorial staff of Bidon – Ciclismo allo stato liquido, who are following the Corsa Rosa. The first to be featured is Giulio Ciccone, the rider who set the fastest time on Bologna’s San Luca climb.
BOLOGNA JERSEY: GIULIO CICCONE
Giulio Ciccone finished last year’s Giro d’Italia wearing the blue jersey of the best climber. Appearances can be deceiving, though; it was simply a borrowed jersey, worn only for the last stage, as the real owner was already sporting a more striking pink jersey. It’s unfortunate for a rider like Ciccone to have to compete with someone like Chris Froome, especially if you’ve targeted the Gran Premio della Montagna points as your main objective and you find the other rider achieving the feat of the decade, with points consequently raining down to overwhelm the rankings like a rogue wave.
But the idea of pulling on the blue jersey continued to percolate through Ciccone’s mind all winter, so when he saw the course for the Bologna stage of the 2019 Giro, with the points for the mountains ranking assigned to the fastest rider on the 2,100 meters of the San Luca climb, he thought it might be the right opportunity. He sized up the race; he calculated in detail how to save energy on the flat (he was the slowest at the first intermediate checkpoint) and then changed bikes and rode all out after passing the first of the porticoes leading to the sanctuary. A meticulous plan developed by a good geometra (“Diploma earned in five years,” he says with pride) and executed in an absolutely clear-headed manner.
“Cycling is beautiful because logic inserts itself into a context inspired by spontaneous actions,” said Ciccone once, revealing all his love for a sensible approach to racing: analyzing his opponents and the route, interpreting the race, and then predicting how it will play out. This is exactly what he did in Bologna on the inaugural afternoon of the 2019 Giro, which he concluded in the same way he finished the last afternoon of the previous Giro: in the blue jersey. With only one substantial difference. This jersey is his, for now, not on loan.
The first king of the Giro’s climbers is a rider of two halves: half from Abruzzo and half from Bergamo. Favorite dishes: arrosticini and polenta taragna. Born in Chieti but moved to Lombardy, for the love of a girl, Chiara, and of his bike. The former he met while on vacation; the latter has been part of his life since he was 7 years old. And it didn’t start very well: at his first race in Manoppello, on home roads, he had his first near-accident, a crash avoided by dodging between a pole and a wall. Then things got better, until cycling became his life. Ciccone understood this when he had to move, looking for climbs and certainties. He found both: “I have the confidence within me that what I am doing could lead me to achieve great results, so I’ve forgotten the distance and the sacrifices.” His results — above all the stage victory at the 2016 Giro, in Sestola, as a neo-pro — strengthened his conviction.
He’s come close a couple of other times in recent years. In 2018 on the Gran Sasso he even tried to attack from the group of favorites in the finale. In the middle, a forced break, because Ciccone has never really been perfectly consistent. Even his heart rate often tended to surge suddenly, like an old-school climber. Instead of following a steady pace, it preferred to shoot up, too much for a cyclist, so that in 2017 he had to undergo two cardiac microsurgeries. A brief pause, then his career started again. Uphill, the way he likes it.
During the last Giro d’Italia, a friend who is an ice-cream maker in Manoppello created a spring flavor dedicated to Ciccone — a blend of coconut and pistachio, the rider’s two favorite flavors. In a week the Giro will pass right by there. Ciccone started with the goal of arriving in the blue jersey. And it would certainly be the right time to break the cyclists’ diet: a celebratory ice cream would be essential.