Jan Hirt put in another great climbing performance, finishing in 7th place and retaining the yellow jersey.
After yesterday’s queen stage, in which Jan Hirt took over the GC lead, the riders head another mountain top finish ahead of them. The final climb was not as long as the Edelweißspitze, but was still extremely hard and suited pure climbers. Aside from the last ascent the rest of the course was all flat.
The team’s goal for the stage was to maintain the leader jersey. Thus “riders in orange” didn’t attempt to get into the breakaways, stayed in the pack alongside Jan Hirt and made sure that the escape doesn’t include anyone who is a GC threat.
8 riders managed to pull away and the highest ranked Nick van der Lijke (Roompot) was 6:25 back in the standings. Velerio Agnoli (Astana), Anthony Perez (Cofidis), Simone Sterbini (Bardiani), Matthias Krizek (Roth), Gavin Mannion (Drapac), Andi Bajc (Amplatz) and Stephan Rabitsch (Felbermayr) were also part of the break and together gained 5:20 over the field.
CCC Sprandi Polkowice was pacing the bunch, but at the same time didn’t want to use all the energy before the climb and also let other teams contribute to the chase. Since the escapees were 6 minutes behind or more in the GC, none of the squads was too eager to catch the leaders by all means.
When the decisive climb started the 8-man group had still more than 3:30 of advantage. While ascending the breakaway split and Sterbini attacked. He built up some gap and was the only one who managed to hold off the group with the favorites.
On the climb Hirt was not let alone by his teammates, as Sylwester Szmyd was the last one to push the tempo in the group and helped his leader in getting to the line with no time loses. Czech climber kept things under control and reached the top in 7th place, with all of his biggest GC competitors. He is still 1:17 ahead of Guillaume Martin (Wanty – Groupe Gobert) and 1:29 Patrick Schelling (Team Vorarlberg).