Jan Hirt showed off strength and form taking 12th place on stage 14 of Giro d’Italia, which featured mountain top finish to Oropa.
Info: Stage 14, May 20th, Castellania – Oropa, 131km
Course: mountain top finish (length – 11,7km, cat. 1, avg. 7%, max. 13%)
How it unfolded
Unlike most of the previous Giro d’Italia stages, this time the escape was not let go easily. Constant attacks continued for the first 30 kilometers and almost every “rider in orange” was among those who attempted to go away. Eventually Natnael Berhane (Dimension Data), Daniel Martinez (Wilfer Triestina) and Sergey Lagutin (Bazprom-RusVelo) were the most fortunate, making the three-man breakaway.
The peloton didn’t make life easy for the early attackers and didn’t cut any slack the trio either. They held the leading group on a 2-minute leash and caught them with 17km to go.
On the approach to the bottom of the final climb, the “orange squad” set up their train to position Jan Hirt for the ascent. He took advantage of their help and kicked off the climb with GC favorites. He stayed with them until 4-5km to go, when they started making their powerful moves. First “big gun” to fire off was Nairo Quintana (Movistar), but surprisingly he got caught with 1,5km remaining, by Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha), Mikel Landa (Team Sky) and overall leader, Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb).
Pink jersey wearer was the strongest from that quartet, securing the stage win. Zakarin was 2nd and Landa 3rd.
Jan Hirt was just one minute behind at the line, taking 12th place. He kept his 20th place overall.
My teammates did a great job helping me keep my position at the head of the bunch, before the final climb – Jan Hirt said afterwards. – I felt very good throughout the entire day and the profile suited me well. Outside the final climb there was no terrain, where peloton could split. I feel better and better with every day. First mountain stage of Giro, to Etna didn’t go the way I had wanted. Since then I’ve been stronger and I hope I will be able to continue that trend in the third week. This is when I would like to try my chances in the breakaway. I think that that could be a good way to hunt that stage victory or place in the top 5. In terms of general classification I don’t set myself any goals, because anything can happen. I can as well move up to 15th or drop outside top 20.