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With speculation growing over which grand tours Evenepoel might race in 2023, the comments provide the latest clue where the reigning world champion will race next season.
“I will start the season in San Juan and then I will probably go to the Giro d’Italia to help Remco Evenepoel, who wants to win the Italian grand tour after his victory in La Vuelta,” Hirt said in a recent interview.
Hirt, 31, won a stage in the 2022 Giro, and is signed on to race for the next two seasons in the new-look Soudal-Quick-Step.
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The Czech climber is a key addition for Quick-Step in 2023, and Hirt’s calendar will likely coincide with Evenepoel, especially after many have pointed out that Evenepoel sometimes lacked firepower to help pace him in the mountains.
Evenepoel has been evasive in public comments so far about what his grand tour calendar might look like in 2023.
With a Giro route loaded with time trials that would favor Evenepoel, a tilt toward the Italian grand tour makes sense for many inside the team bus at Quick-Step.
On paper, the Giro looks better suited than the Tour for Evenepoel, but the chance to debut in the Tour while in the rainbow jersey, however, might prove too tempting for Evenepoel.
Of course, Evenepoel could race both the Giro and Tour in the same season, or defend his Vuelta a España crown as well. Two grand tours in 2023 are unlikely for the Belgian superstar, who turns 23 in January.
Team officials say more details about calendar for Evenepoel and the team’s top riders will be hammered out during a December training camp, and be unveiled during an official team presentation early next year to welcome new co-title sponsor Soudal on January 6.
In an interview with the Czech magazine iDNES, Hirt said he couldn’t turn down the chance to race with Quick-Step, especially since he raced with the development team in 2014.
“I expect to learn a lot at Quick-Step,” he told iDNES. “Everyone on that team steps up a level. There are a lot of leaders, but cycling is a collective, and I have to adapt to that.”
Hirt, racing with Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert in 2021 and 2022, enjoyed a breakout season in 2022, winning a stage and the overall at the Tour of Oman.
At the Giro, he won the “queen stage” over the Mortirolo in the final week and rode to sixth overall. A case of COVID-19 knocked him out of the Vuelta.
Hirt said he’s ready to help Evenepoel and the other team leaders.
“And if I work hard for the others, I will also get my chances,” he said of Soudal-Quick-Step. “There is no point in resisting the natural hierarchy.”