Tour of Austria: Hirt 5th in the first climbing test

Jan Hirt came in 5th in stage 3 of Tour of Austria with an uphill finale. Marcin Mrożek was part of the 5-man breakaway of the day, which got caught inside the final 15 kilometers. 

181-kilometers were on the menu, as well as short, but demanding climb to the finish in Sonntagberg, where cat. 3 KOM was located. There were also two categorized climbs earlier in the stage, both cat. 2, so it was definitely not the day for the sprinters.

Marcin Mrożek attacked early on and three other riders came along – Alessandro Vanotti (Astana), Anthony Perez (Cofidis) and Alexej Rybalkin (Gazprom-RusVelo). After a solo chase also Frederik Backaert (Wanty-Group Gobert) joined the leaders.

Mrożek was one of the strongest riders in the lead, as he claimed 2nd and 1st place at first two, cat. 2 climbs of the day. He also contributed greatly to extending the advantage to almost 5 mines. The peloton had no mercy for the escapees tough as the break got caught with 13km to go.

At that point “riders in orange” were pedaling at the head of the field, to make sure that Jan Hirt starts the last climb from a comfortable position. When the road kicked up, attacks started. First rider to go was Stefano Pirazzi (Bardiani-CSF), but his move was neutralized. The one who launched the biggest missile was Brendan Canty (Drapac), who pulled away alone and reached the top of the climb with 10-second gap over 2nd Markus Eibegger (Team Felbermayr Simplon Wels) and 16-second gap over 3rd Marek Rutkiewicz (Wibatech Fuji). Jan Hirt was right there with the strongest, taking 5th place (20 seconds back) and moved up to 6th overall (24 seconds back).

Tomorrow is arguably the hardest stage of the race, with mountain top finish in Edelweißspitze. There is a 15-kilometer climb in the end, which reaches 2554 meters over the sea level.