Jan Hirt bested his personal best in Solden, proving that he still has something left in his legs after successful Giro d’Italia. Czech was 6th at the top of the hardest climb of Tour de Suisse.
Info: Stage 7, June 16th, Zernez – Sölden, 166,3km
Course: mountain (Sölden – 14,2km, avg. 9,5%, kat. HC)
How it unfolded
It was another stage which featured very fast opening. It wasn’t easy to get into the break, but eventually an 18-man group was given a green light to go clear. It included Jhonatan Restrepo, Baptiste Planckaert (Katusha-Alpecin), Jeroen Meijers (Roompot-Oranje Loterij), Lars-Petter Nordhaug, Daniel Pearson (Aqua Blue Sport), David De La Cruz, Matteo Trentin (Quick Step Floors), Lachlan Morton (Dimension Data), Marcus Burghardt, Peter Sagan (Bora-Hansgrohe), Michael Matthews (Sunweb), Nelson Oliveira (Movistar), Lilian Calmejane, Sylvain Chavanel (Direct Energie), Matthew Hayman (Orica-Scott), Tim Wellens (Lotto-Soudal), Jon Dibben (Team Sky) and Tsgabu Grmay (Bahrain-Merida).
Since CCC Sprandi Polkowice missed out on this escape, was forced to work at the head of the bunch alongside leader’s team, Ag2R. They made sure that the gap doesn’t exceed 4 minutes and thanks to their effort the big escape got caught with 16km remaining.
When the road to Solden kicked up the bunch thinned out immediately, but Jan Hirt survived that selection with the strongest. Yellow jersey wearer, Domenico Pozzovivo (Ag2R) got dropped early, as well as 2nd in GC, Rui Costa.
Rein Taaramae (Katusha) was responsible for all the damage in the main group and helped his leader, Simon Spilak take the stage win. He reached the top by himself, 22 seconds ahead of Ion Izagirre (Bahrain Merida) and 36s ahead of Joe Dombrowski (Cannondale-Drapac).
Jan Hirt covered most of the final climb alongside Steven Kruijsvijk (Team LottoNL-Jumbo) and Damiano Caruso (BMC Racing) and got to the finish line 1:07 back, in 6th place. It was his best performance in Solden, after finishing 7th in 2015 and 10th in 2016 edition of Tour de Suisse. After the stage he moved up to 24th overall, while Spilak took over the lead.
Solden is one my favorite climbs. It suits be perfectly and every time I’ve raced here, I finished in top 10 – Jan Hirt explained afterwards. – Today I tried go for a stage success, since I’m not in contention for GC. My sensations on the climb were not bad, but I also didn’t feel that great either. I am very tired after Giro d’Italia and I attacked yesterday, so I lost some energy there as well.
My teammates did a great job during the stage, setting a strong pace in the bunch and chasing the breakaway. They had faith in me, that I could do well in the end and that motivated me too.
It’s been very hard few weeks for me, with Tour of Croatia, Giro d’Italia and Tour de Suisse. I hope to get some rest after the Swiss race and get read for the second part of the season.