Jan Hirt showed off his climbing skills on stage 9 of Giro d’Italia which featured mountain top finish to Blockhaus, arguably the hardest climb of the race. Meanwhile Jan Tratnik spent most of the day in the breakaway.
Info: Stage 9, May 14th, Montenero di Bisaccia – Blockhaus, 152km
Course: mountain top finish to cat. 1 Blockhaus (13,65km long, avg. 8,4%, max. 14%)
Jan Tratnik was part of his second breakaway of the day in this year’s Giro d’Italia. He went clear soon after the start alongside Alexey Tstatevich (Gazprom-RusVelo), Mads Pedersen (Trek-Segafredo), Marco Marcato (UAE Team Emirates), Omar Fraile (Dimension Data), Matteo Montaguti (AG2R La Mondiale), Luis Leon Sanchez (Astana), Matteo Busato (Wilier-Triestina) and Iljo Keisse (Quick-Step Floors).
Later, after a long chase, they were joined by Pierre Rolland (Cannondale-Drapac), Tomasz Marczynski (Lotto Soudal) and Sacha Modolo (UAE Team Emirates). First hour of racing was very fast, as the average speed reached 50km/h.
The peloton didn’t let escape gain too much ground, maintaining the gap under 3 minutes. Most of escapees got caught with 26km remaining, when the road started to rise gently. This is when Tratnik, Marczyński and Rolland attacked. At that point they had just 20 seconds of advantage though and were brought back in with 22km to go.
Just before the proper Blockhaus climb, there was a crash in the pack, caused by policeman on a motorbike, who stopped on the side of the road. Few Team Sky riders, including Geraint Thomas and Mikel Landa, as well as Orica-Scott’s Adam Yates, were taken out and afterwards had to chase. CCC Sprandi Polkowice riders, Jan Hirt, Michal Schlegel and Felix Grossschartner, who at the moment of accident were still in main group, managed to make it safely around it.
Movistar was not looking behind, setting strong pace and reducing the group to 23 riders, with 10km to go. Jan Hirt was the last “rider in orange” standing, but eventually even him had to let it go and finish the climb at his own tempo.
6,5km from the top Nairo Quintana (Movistar), Thibaut Pino (FDJ) and Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain Merida) launched an attack. 2 kilometers further Columbian kicked again, this time leaving everyone behind.
Quintana proved to be the strongest climber of the race, claimed convincing win and took over the pink jersey. Pinot was 2nd (24 seconds back) and Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) who found his rhythm late in the stage, finished 3rd.
At the end of the day Jan Hirt put on solid climbing performance, arriving in 26th place (4:39 back), moving up to 26th overall (11:22). In total three riders of Polkowice-based team came in in the top 50, as Schlegel was 35th and Grossschartner 47th.