“I’ve been waiting for this second stage win for two years now. So I yelled with joy on the finishing line because it’s been a complicated day with lots of rain and cold. Jan [Hirt] didn’t want to cooperate so it’s been a bit nervous between us but at the end I’m happy with everything,” said Ciccone.
This resulted in the 11.9km long Mortirolo being the main feature. The stage still featured 4 800m of vertical ascent and three categorised climbs in total.
Ciccone and Hirt battled it out as they climbed their way to the finish after conquering the Mortirolo, with the former leading.
With 4km remaining the two leaders were sharing the workload, until Ciccone set the pace with 1km to the line.
Ciccone continued on the front as he made his way to the finish, taking his first stage win in this year’s tour.
With less than 35km to the finish Hirt, Ciccone, Mikel Nieve (Mitchelton-Scott) and Damiano Caruso (Bahrin-Merida) were all that was left from a 22-man break that were established soon after the start.
Hirt attacked and created a small gap, while Nieve was dropped. The remaining trio then hit the 18 per cent gradients of the Mortirolo climb.
Caruso slipped back, leaving Ciccone and Hirt up front, while Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) attacked from the peloton.
Hugh Carthy (EF Education First) and Antonio Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) caught Nibali and sat on his wheel, while ahead of them Caruso chased the two leaders.
Antonio Nibali then cracked as Caruso caught up with the leaders.
With 29km remaining Mikel Landa (Movistar Team), overall leader Richard Carapaz (Movistar Team) and Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) joined up with Nibali and Carthy. Andrey Amador (Movistar Team) joined the group a few kilometres later.
The maglia rosa group then chased down Ciccone, Hirt and Caruso who were the leading trio, before Caruso was dropped.
Ciccone just had Hirt for company as they made their way to the summit of the Mortirolo.
Lopez moved clear and chased the leading duo. He was joined by teammate Pello Bilbao (Astana), who formed part of the initial 22-man break.
They had 20 seconds on the maglia rosa group that included Carapaz, Carthy, Landa, Nibali, Masnada and Caruso, but Lopez was eventually caught.
The two lone leaders had four minutes on the chasing group with 17km to go.
They managed to hold on to their lead as they tackled the final uphill to the finish, with Ciccone, who is also the King of the Mountains classification leader, overpowering Hirt to win the queen stage.
Carapaz managed to hold on to the pink jersey, while Nibali slotted into second and Primoz Roglic (Team Jumbo-Visma) moved down to third.