Giro d’Italia 2022 : Stage 16 – Wanty corner goes wild with Jan Hirt’s 5-star victory

It was a five-star stage 16 of the Giro d’Italia and the riders responded. It started with riders all over the road (early breaks trying to get away) and ended with riders all over the road. It was Jan Hirt who kept Intermarche-Wanty’s Giro fires burning with a well-fought solo win, with Thymen Arenseman (DSM) coming in second. But the GC put on a show as well, with Bora’s Jai Hindley in an uphill sprint with Richard Carapaz (Ineos) to take precious bonus seconds for third. Carapaz keeps the maglia rosa, but give Hindley anything over 3sec tomorrow and it’s on his shoulders. None of the other jerseys changed hands either.

Team Chess

Cycling has been described as chess on two wheels. And today, teams were playing chess from Salo to Aprica, via the Goletto di Cadino, Passo del Mortirolo and Valico di Santo Cristina – all Cat 1s – with a vicious little kicker at Teglio before the final climb and a slippery, technical, terrifying descent to a little ramp up from the flamme rouge to the finish line. Let’s see what they did with their men …

Stacking the breaks

Teams were throwing men in the breaks. BikeExchange‘s Chris Juul-Jensen went first in a small break from the get-go (which included Mark Cavendish. Yes. Mark Cavendish). Then BEX bided their time and moved Simon PHILIP Yates into a break that formed on the lower slopes of the Goletto di Cadino. For all the commentator’s excitement about Yates, it came to nothing.

Bora-hansgrohe had a plan, which saw Wilco Kelderman and Lennard Kämna going up the road early on. With their GC man, Jai Hindley, in the maglia rosa group, they might possibly have been up the road as help for a possible attack later. Kämna went on a solo bid for glory on the descent coming up to the final climb, getting a minute out in front, only to be joined by DSM‘s Thymen Arensman (who had been helped in the break by Chris Hamilton).

That attack brought out Intermarche-Wanty’s Jan Hirt, who had been in the break with teammate Lorenzo Rota. With just 2.5km left of the final climb, before the technical descent, Hirt and Arensman left Kamna behind and it was attack-counter attack, with Hirt getting the upper hand and had a handful of seconds as he started his descent and final 6km to the finish.

It was nip and tuck all the way down a slippery, treacherous, technical descent, with both riders taking just enough chances to keep their momentum but not go over the edge. Hirt went under the flamme rouge 10 seconds before Arensman and climbed to the finish to take his first Grand Tour stage victory.

 Sticking together

The GC top ten stayed together until Astana started to go on the march up the Mortirolo to set up Vincenzo Nibali’s derring do on the descent (dropping a fair amount of dead wood on the way up). With flair and finesse, he flew down the mountain, with Carapaz careered after him, looking slightly terrified in parts. All the others got down the descent unscathed, except for Wanty’s Domenico Pozzovivo, who crashed on a bend and spent the rest of the stage trying to minimise the time damage.

At the base of the final climb, Bahrain Victorious started their end game. Bahrain’s opening move of the day was to send Wout Poels out in the break early on. Suitably warmed up, he then came back and along with three of his teammates, started pulling at the front of the small maglia rosa group, to set up an attack by Mikel Landa.

A strange incident when Pello Bilbao crashed on the uphill (could have been Landa with a touch of wheels), which nearly took down Hindley and Joao Almeida, was the only mistake in Bahrain’s plan. But all came back together and Landa launched his attack – only Carapaz and Hindley could follow.

Attack after attack from each of the three kept Almeida from clawing his way back to them – he was only a figure in white in the background when the cameras panned to the lead three, like a little ghost.

But the lead three couldn’t crack one another. Finally, the finish line. Hindley went on a sprint for the only bonus points left, followed by Carapaz, although in a near photofinish, Hindley stayed ahead of the maglia rosa and is now breathing down his neck, just 3sec behind.


What about everyone else?

The big leap in the GC belonged to Vincenzo Nibali, rising from 8th to 5th, but still nearly 4min off the top spot. Landa didn’t lose any time, but didn’t gain any either, staying in 4th, due to the tenaciousness that is Joao Almeida. His ghostly, stealth ride once dropped meant that although he lost 13sec, he kept his 3rd place.

Please join us in Wanty Corner

While Pozzovivo lost a lot of time today, dropping from 5th place and 1.01 down to 6th and 3.48 down, Jan Hirt has moved into 9th overall, giving Wanty two in the top ten. For me, Wanty is the team story of the Giro.

All the results

Stage results 

1 Jan Hirt (Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert) 5:40:45

2 Thymen Arensman (Team DSM) +0:07

3 Jai Hindley (Bora-hansgrohe) +1:24

4 Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) same time

5 Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) +1.24

GC Top 10 

1 Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers) 68:49:06

2 Jai Hindley (BORA-hansgrohe) +0.03

3 Joao Almeida (UEA Team Emirates) +0.44

4 Mikel Landa (Bahrain Victorious) +0.59

5 Vincenzo Nibali (Astana) +3:40

6 Domenico Pozzovivo (Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert) +3:48

7 Pello Bilbao (Bahrain Victorious) +3:51

8 Emanual Buchmann (BORA-hansgrohe) +4:45

9 Jan Hirt (Intermarche-Wanty-Gobert) +7:42

10  Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) +9:04

All the jerseys

Leader’s jersey : Richard Carapaz (Ineos Grenadiers)

Points jersey : Arnaud Demare (Groupama-FDJ)

King of the Mountains: Koen Bouwman (Jumbo-Visma)

Best young rider: Joao Almeida (UAE)

Team : Bora-hansgrohe 

For full race results, go to CyclingNews

Official Giro d’Italia website is here

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