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Aprica (Italy) (AFP) – Czech rider Jan Hirt took the 16th stage of the Giro d’Italia on Tuesday to claim his first ever Grand Tour win, while Richard Carapaz held on to his slender overall lead after a brutal mountain stage.
The 31-year-old Intermarche rider attacked two kilometres before the summit of the final of three huge climbs on the 202km run from Salo to Aprica and held off chaser Thyman Arensman for the win.
Hirt’s stage win was by far the biggest of his career and added to his overall victory at the Tour of Oman this year.
“When people ask me what I want to do with cycling I say that I want to win one stage on the Giro and then I can stop my career,” Hirt joked after the win.
“So now I am happy but I don’t want to stop now.”
Hirt had been chasing Lennard Kamna after the Bora-Hansgrohe rider made a run for it just before the start of the final Santa Cristina ascent.
However he and Arensman caught Kamna within the closing 10km and Hirt then made his charge for the line in wet Aprica after wrestling with mechanical problems in the last kilometres.
“He (Kamna) had a good advantage on us and it was looking quite difficult but I had to try,” added Hirt.
“I had quite difficult moments on the stage… in the last climb I had a problem with the bike it wasn’t shifting very well, it was jumping my chain.
“I was suffering so much and had all these problems but I wanted the win so bad I held on till the end.”
Olympic road race champion Richard Carapaz retained the pink jersey after crossing just over a minute later alongside Mikel Landa and Jai Hindley.
Hindley cut Carapaz’s already a slim lead to just three sedonds after winning four bonus seconds on the finish line.
© 2022 AFP