It seems that Jan Hirt is getting stronger with every stage of Giro d’Italia. He finished stage 19 with top GC contenders, responding in the end to attacks launched by such riders, as Nairo Quintana and Vincenzo Nibali.
Info: Stage 19, May 26th, San Candido/Innichen – Piancavallo, 191km
Course: mountain stage (Sella Chianzutan – 11,7km, avg. 5,6%, max. 11%, cat.2, Piancavello – 15,4km, 7,3%, max. 14%, cat. 1)
How it unfolded?
Outside of Hirt, also Maciej Paterski made his presence known on the stage, as he was one of 5 early attackers. He crested first categorized climb with a slim lead and in the descent his breakaway swelled to 14 riders. He was joined by Clément Chevrier (Ag2r La Mondiale), Pello Bilbao (Astana), Nicola Boem (Bardiani-CSF), Gregor Mühlberger (Bora-Hansgrohe), Pierre Rolland (Cannondale-Drapac), Tobias Ludvigsson (FDJ), Evgeny Shalunov (Gazprom-Rusvelo), José Herrada (Movistar), Dries Devenyns (Quick-Step Floors), Daniel Teklehaimanot (Dimension Data), Jurgen Van den Boreck (LottoNL-Jumbo), Rui Costa (UAE Team Emirates) and Ilia Koshevoy (Wilier-Selle Italia).
They had almost 6 minutes of advantage, but then, in the descent, the bunch split. GC leader, Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) got stuck behind and his biggest rivals took advantage of it. Movistar, Bahrain-Merida and FDJ were all setting furious pace in the main group, stretching the lead over pink jersey and closing in on Paterski’s group.
CCC Sprandi Polkowice rider and rest of escapees were caught with 96km to go. On cat. 2 climb two groups that included all GC contenders came back together and pace eased up. 6 riders decided that this is the right moment to launch another move and later were joined by another 12. New breakaway established 12-minute lead.
Peloton continued to go easily and the entire CCC Sprandi Polkowice team, which lost contact with the leaders during fierce battle among favorites, managed to return to the pack.
Mikel Landa (Team Sky) timed his attack on the final climb perfectly, as he went away from the leading group. Spaniard covered most of the ascent alone and claimed stage victory. Other members of the escape, Rui Costa (UEA Team Emirates) and Pierre Rolland (Cannondale-Drapac) finished in 2nd and 3rd respectively.
Battle of GC favorites was on and Jan Hirt was in the mix. He was keeping up with big guns, such as Nairo Quintana (Movistar) or Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) and was responding to their moves. Czech outclimbed Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) who was getting dropped early in the climb. At the end of the day Hirt reached the line in 19th place, reatining his 16th place overall.
Quintana took over the leader jersey.