Astana's Hirt 2nd, Lopez backs in white in Giro d'Italia Stage 16
NUR-SULTAN. KAZINFORM - Jan Hirt took a solid second place, while Astana's leader Miguel Angel Lopez took the while jersey of the best young rider after today's extreme raining and cold stage 16 with a famous climb Passo del Mortirolo, the press service of the club reports.
A group of 21 riders went away in the first part of the distance with three Astana Pro Team riders: Davide Villella, Pello Bilbao and Jan Hirt. On the slopes of Mortirolo it was Jan Hirt, who attacked to try to go solo and, finally, only Giulio Ciccone, the leader of the mountain classification, could follow him.
Behind them, Astana's leader Miguel Angel Lopez launched an attack from the GC contenders group inside the last km to the top of Mortirolo climb. Supported by Pello Bilbao, Lopez tried to escape and to gain some seconds on a very hard and dangerous descent from Mortirolo.
"In a moment, in the end of the descent it looked like Miguel Angel gets a good gap, but we were not sure, how much is the difference between him and the pink jersey group. So, we asked Jan Hirt, who was in the break, to wait a bit until we get the exact information about the time gaps. In case Miguel Angel would have a good gap, we would ask Jan to wait for our leader. But, finally, the pink jersey group could come back after a dangerous descent and we gave Jan a chance to fight for the stage, because the break still had over 4 minutes of advantage," said Alexandr Shefer, sports director of Astana Pro Team.
Both riders, Jan Hirt and Giulio Ciccone arrived together to the finish line in Ponte di Legno, where in sprint Ciccone took the stage win, while Hirt finished second.
"In the end I was totally frozen and I just did not have power to do the sprint in the final. Today, I gave my best and on Mortirolo I felt quite good. But later, on the descent it was really cold and I suffered of it. Anyway, when our sports directors said me Miguel Angel has a chance to gain some time on his rivals, I was ready to stop and wait for him to help him with all I could. But, in the end, he was still far away behind us, while the chasers closed the gap. So, I tried to fight for the stage. I really did my best, but Ciccone was just stronger today. Congratulations to him," explained Jan Hirt.
Miguel Angel Lopez did a great race today, firstly with a few attacks on Mortirolo, later with a brave move on the descent and with all that work he did in the pink jersey group, giving his best to increase the advantage on the chasers behind.
"With 1.5 km to go I was just empty. Nothing left in the legs. I was trying to pass it through, but it was not easy. I gave my best today, but in the end I suffered from the cold. Anyway, I could be happy with the way I did this stage and with the way my team helped me. Now, I retook the white jersey and this brings me more motivation ahead of the final hard stages of the Giro. We will continue this Giro day by day," said Miguel Angel Lopez.
The group of the pink jersey arrived to the finish 1 minute 41 seconds behind Ciccone and Hirt. Miguel Angel Lopez finished 22 seconds later. A few GC contenders lost some time today, thus, the general classification of the Giro d'Italia has got important changes. Richard Carapaz still holds the pink jersey of the overall leader, while Vincenzo Nibali moved up to second position, 1.47 behind. Primož Roglič is third now, with a deficit of 2 minutes 9 seconds. Astana's Miguel Angel Lopez is now 7th in the GC, 6 minutes 17 seconds behind the leader.
In the classification of the best young rider Lopez has an advantage of 1 minute 34 seconds on Pavel Sivakov.
Stage 17 will be held tomorrow: 181 km from Commezzadura (Val di Sole) to Anterselva (Antholz).