The Giro d’Italia of Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux was further embellished this Tuesday thanks to a victory of Jan Hirt in the sixteenth stage between Salo and Aprica, exactly one week after the success of Biniam Girmay in Jesi.
With over 5000 meters of climbing, it was one of the important stages of this 105th edition with notably the Passo del Mortirolo, one of the mythical climbs of the event.
The winner of the Tour of Oman joined a breakaway of 22 riders together with Lorenzo Rota and fought for a long time to increase its advantage. The gap grew over 4 minutes under the impetus of Lorenzo Rota in the downhill of Goletto di Cadino (19km at 6.2%).
Halfway through the 202 kilometer stage, the Passo del Mortirolo (12.7km at 7.7%) caused a lot of damage in both the breakaway and the peloton. While Jan Hirt crossed the top in the lead of the race with six other riders, Rein Taaramäe and Domenico Pozzovivo followed the maglia rosa group. The seven leaders maintained their advantage, enabling them to fight for the stage win on the final climb Valico di Santa Cristina (12.7km at 8.1%). Jan Hirt left his competitors behind on the steepest part of the climb and crossed the top with an advantage of 15 seconds on his first chaser.
The Czech rider resisted to his chasers during the 8 kilometer downhill on wet roads and crossed the line as the winner, taking the ninth victory of the season for the Belgian team. Thanks to his first Grand Tour stage win, Hirt climbs to ninth place in the provisional classification. Despite a crash in the downhill of the Mortirolo, Domenico Pozzovivo bravely fought until the line to stay in the top six of the provisional classification.
“I was looking forward to do something nice in this stage, because the Mortirolo has a special meaning for me. In 2019 I finished second in the queen stage which also passed the Mortirolo and in Aprica. I wanted to repeat this performance and it all started well as I managed to anticipate by joining the breakaway. However, not everything went according to plan. First, I had to close a gap on the Mortirolo because of the bad cooperation in the breakaway before the climb. When I was again in the lead of the race I planned to attack on the steepest part of the final climb Santa Christina. But meanwhile, Lennard Kämna already gained an important advantage before the foot of the climb. In the end, waiting for the highest climbing percentages was the best strategy for me. I had to dig really deep, both uphill and downhill. I overcame several hurdles and felt pain everywhere, but my desire to win this stage was so strong. I fought until the finish line and I won! A stage victory in the Giro d’Italia was my ultimate goal before today… But now I’m here on the podium I’m convinced that my career is unfinished business!”