Czech Cycling Tour: Hirt just outside the podium on the “queen” stage

“Riders in orange” were even easier to spot than usually in the finale of stage 3 of Czech Cycling Tour, as they were part of every move. Two of CCC Sprandi Polkowice runners finished the day in top 6.

Info: 12th of August, Mohelnice – Sternberk, 186,4km

Course: hilly (6 categorized climbs)

How it unfolded

Arguably the hardest stage of the race started off with 4 riders going clear – Tomas Buchacek (Elkov-Author), Matthias Krizek (Tirol Cycling Team), Andriy Vasylyuk (Kolss Cycling Team) and Michele Scartezzini (Sangemini – MG.Kvis). They established over 4-minute advantage, controlled by leader’s Bora-Hansgrohe and CCC Sprandi Polkowice.

The escapees were holding on until 30km to go, when they got caught after crossing the finish line in Sternberk for the first time. Felix Grossschartner didn’t hesitate and launched his move on the climb and only Riccardo Zoidl (Team Felbermayr – Simplon Wels) and Paweł Cieślik (Elkov-Author) were able to follow. Peloton was not happy with that attempt though, and neutralized it with 10km remaining.

Jan Hirt was ready for that scenario and attacked on the uphill, alongside Jan Barta (Bora-Hansgrohe), Josef Cerny (Elkov-Author) and Rasmus Guldhammer (Team Veloconcept). They would split and merge few times and in the last descent Barta rolled the dice and gained few seconds on his opponents. Cerny managed to join him just before the finish and outsprint him to claim the stage win. Guldhammer was 3rd and Hirt had to settle for 4th.

The final climb, with the summit only 7km from the line, caused a lot of damage in the bunch. It broke into pieces, but it was Jan Tratnik who initiated that action. He pushed really hard in the end with Silvo Herklotzem (BORA – hansgrohe) and nearly caught the leaders. Eventually he finished 6th and before the last stage of the race he sits in 3rd overall (11s back), behind Cerny and Barta, but leading the points classification.

Michal Schlegel is another CCC Sprandi Polkowice leader’s jersey wearer, since he took the lead in youth classification (sits in 9th overall).