Jan Hirt completed very hard 9-day event, Tour of Austria on the podium. He finished the last stage in the peloton and secured third place in the general classification.
It’s a very big success for me, the biggest in my career. Tour of Austria is a prestigious event, with many good riders taking part in it, so I can be proud of that result – Jan Hirt explained. – The last few stages were quite stressful for me and the team, since first we had to protect the yellow jersey and then the podium spot. Yesterday we had to put a lot of effort to chase down the escape, because Brent Bookwalter, who was a GC threat, was part of the leading group. Also today my teammates and I had to strongly contribute to pace setting, since Egor Silin, who was dangerous in terms of overall standings, was in the break. In addition to that, I crashed today in the descend, at fast speed, but I managed to come out of this with no serious injuries and I got back into the group. Thankfully it all ended well for us and we maintained the podium place in the GC. I want to thank all my teammates who were protecting me throughout the entire 9 days of racing. They deserve a lot of credit and I wouldn’t be able to finish in Top 3 without them.
The finale of the race was expected to be very lively. And it actually was. In the first part of the 192-kilometer stage there were three categorized climbs – cat. 3 at 37km, cat.1 at 68km and cat. 1 at 121km. On the first hill, a 7-man group broke clear. The highest ranked rider in that escape was Chris Anker Sorensen (Tinkoff – Saxo), who was 14th overall, 4:45 back. The leading cyclists established the advantage of 3:45, which meant that the Dane was the virtual runner-up in the GC.
The peloton picked up the pace though. On the first cat. 1 climb of the day at Hahntennjoch, the bunch split and only the strongest riders remained in the chasing group. Among them there was Jan Hirt and also GC leader, Victor De la Parta (Team Vorarlberg) and Ben Hermans (BMC Racing).
At the top of the climb the escapees were caught, creating 25-man leading group. Next move also involved 7 riders and this time it included Eduard Vorganov (Katusha), Amael Moinard (BMC), Hubert Dupont (AG2R La Mondiale), Matej Mohorič (Cannondale – Garmin), Larry Warbasse (IAM), Natnael Berhane (MTN-Qhubeka) and Stephan Rabitsch (Felbermayr – Simplon Wels). They built up a 50-second lead but they were also reeled in.
Meanwhile Jan Hirt was involved in a crash, but he managed to get up quickly and get back to the main group.
Another attempt came from Felix Groβschartner (Felbermayr – Simplon Wels), Manuel Senni (BMC), Larry Warbasse (IAM), Ben King (Cannondale – Garmin) and Jesus Herndanez (Tinkoff – Saxo). Later also Linus Gerdeman (Cult Energy). Jegor Silin (Katusha), Tom-Jelte Slagter (Cannondale-Garmin), Cyril Lemoine (Cofidis) and Marco Marcato (Wanty – Groupe Gobert) bridged the gap. On the only remaining, small hill, around 20 kilometers from the line, Gerdeman, Silin and Slagter pulled away.
The last kilometers were going downhill and the gap was at 40 seconds. The trio’s chances of surviving until the very end, were quite large, but the bunch, which merged together on the descend, was ruthless. Gerdeman, Silin and Slagter were brought back in with only 2 kilometers to go.
It came down to a bunch sprint in which Moreno Moser (Cannondale-Garmin) was the fastest. He powered to victory, besting David Tanner (IAM Cycling) and Clement Venturini (Cofidis). Jan Hirt arrived in the bunch, in 27th place and claimed third in the general classification.
Victor De la Parte (Team Vorarlberg) took the overall win, ahead of Ben Hermans.