It was Mortirolo day this Tuesday on the Giro, after the third and final rest day in the Corsa Rosa. However, the iconic Italian pass was not the only climb featuring in stage 16, which tallied no less than 5,200 meters of elevation gain into Aprica. Jan Hirt eventually got the win from the breakaway, as Arnaud Démare kept the cyclamen jersey after reaching the line well within the time limits.
On Sunday, the riders reached the rest day after a stage including 4000 meters of elevation gain. They resumed racing on Tuesday with an even tougher course between Salò and Aprica. “It was a very tough stage, with 5,000 meters of elevation, three big climbs and 202 kilometres”, said Benoît Vaugrenard. “After a rest day, it’s never easy.” Although the riders recovered some energy on Monday, the menu was still very dense, although the day’s first thirty kilometres were to be covered on a flat road. “The start was super fast, like it has been for a few days,” explained Benoît. A handful of riders took the lead before starting the first climb of the day, the Goletto di Cadino (19 km at 6%), but numerous counterattacks occurred in the back as everyone wanted to enter the break. Attila Valter was also very active for the Groupama-FDJ cycling team. “A group of about twenty riders first went, and Attila made a big effort to join it, but it wasn’t the right timing”, explained Benoît. “Unfortunately, he then paid for this effort and kind of exploded. It was a bit too fast for him. He tried; he just wasn’t in the right move at the right time. The pace was also very high in the front. There were very good riders, so it surely was difficult”.
“We had no worries”, Arnaud Démare
In this first climb of the day, the young Hungarian therefore had to let the breakaway go, before he got caught by a bunch including Ignatas Konovalovas and Tobias Ludvigsson. “Then he sat up completely thinking about tomorrow’s stage, where the breakaway can have a chance again,” added Benoît. After the ascents of the Mortirolo and the Valico di Santa Cristina later, only two men finally managed to stay away from the GC favourites, and Jan Hirt took the victory. Arnaud Démare and his teammates finished less than fifty minutes later, almost fifteen minutes before the time cut. “It was a long day, but they managed it pretty well,” said Benoît. “I was always in a very large group”, explained Arnaud. “We did well in the valleys, where we rode very fast. We still had some time ahead of the last climb, so we had no worries. Of course, we go through difficult times, but that’s part of the Giro, and of the Grand Tours in general”. The French sprinter has then completed his eleventh day with the cyclamen jersey and will have to overcome another big mountain stage on Wednesday before hoping for a sprint in Treviso on Thursday. “It will start uphill right from the start, and for eight kilometres”, previewed Benoît. “There should be another great fight for the breakaway.”