The Trek-Segafredo climber bests Thomas De Gendt in the final to win the virtual competition.
Giulio Ciccone bested arguably the fiercest competitor in virtual racing, Thomas De Gendt (Lotto Soudal), in the final of the knockout competition Sunday and claimed victory in the Challenge of the Stars climbers competition.
The climbers competition featured one-on-one races on the Stelvio climb between eight riders. All races were held on the virtual cycling platform Bkool in a knockout formation until two remained and faced off in the final Sunday.
Giulio Ciccone topped Jakob Fuglsang (Astana) in the opening round and Simon Geschke (CCC Team) in the semi-final before meeting the always tough competitor De Gendt in a winner takes all battle.
It was a close match, with De Gendt leading all the way and Ciccone giving chase over a steep 2.9-kilometer section of the Stelvio. Within the final kilometer, Ciccone was able to close the gap to the gritty Belgian, and in the last meters, pull around him for the win.
“Thomas got off to a strong start,” explained Ciccone. “I managed the first part and followed a couple of seconds behind. I kept my focus on the finale. Thanks to a constant progression, I caught him back, caught my breath, and then I sprinted full gas!”
Ciccone crossed the finish line with a time of 7 minutes and 44 seconds while De Gendt finished in 8 minutes and three seconds.
“It was an engaging challenge in an innovative race format,” added Ciccone. “It’s a race that drives you to pull out every last bit of energy. The final round with De Gendt was a big fight. He started fast, but there was time for me to come back and, in the end, a head-to-head challenge for the win. It was fun! I really enjoyed it.”
No stranger to riding indoors under Italy’s country-wide lockdown that lasted for most of March, throughout April and into early May, Giulio Ciccone also took on a personal virtual Everest Challenge. You can read all the details about that challenge here.