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The mountains of the Giro d’Italia came back into view Tuesday with a brutally tough stage up the fearsome Mortirolo and ending into Aprica with another tightly fought battle for the win and precious seconds in the overall standings.
Jan Hirt (Intermarché-Wanty) came away with a well deserved stage win after holding off the remnants of the break to win alone.
Behind the climber, the battle for the maglia rosa raged with Jai Hindley (Bora-Hansgroghe) taking four seconds back on Richard Carapaz to cut the Ineos Grenadiers’s lead in the race to just three seconds. The pair went toe-to-toe with Mikel Landa (Bahrain-Victorious) who kicked off the attacks on the final climb of the Valico di Santa Cristina.
— Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert (@IntermarcheWG) May 24, 2022
The trio could not be separated on the climb or the treacherous descent to the finish but Hindley had the best legs in the tight sprint for third place on the stage with Carapaz pushed into fourth on the stage. Hindley came into the stage seven seconds, but now is within touching distance of the pink jersey just three seconds in arrears going into another mountain stage Wednesday.
João Almeida (UAE Team Emirates) was unable to respond to a series of searing attacks on the last climb and was forced to ride at his own tempo. The white jersey managed to limit his losses, and even dropped Vincenzo Nibali but he still conceded 14 seconds to slip to 44 seconds behind Carapaz in the overall standings. Despite all the work, Landa remains fourth on GC at 59 seconds.
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Nibali managed to move up three places in the top-10 to fifth and had put his Astana team to work on the Mortirolo and the valley before the final climb but he was powerless to respond when Landa kicked with around 10km to go on the last climb. The Italian lost 42 seconds to his main rivals and is now 3:40 behind Carapaz.
Domenico Pozzovivo had to come back from a crash on the descent of the Mortirolo after Nibali stretched the group of GC contenders.
The pint-sized climber came back to the group before the final climb but was dropped when Landa first lifted the pace. Pozzovivo dropped a place on GC and now sits 3:48 down on Carapaz with his podium hopes taking a huge hit
Pello Bilbao (Bahrain-Victorious) also crashed, but while going uphill, and slipped a place to seventh at 3:51, while Emanuel Buchmann (Bora-Hansgrohe) also lost time after being dropped on the lower slopes of the last climb with 13.1km to go.
Hirt’s stage win and time gained in the break catapulted him up the GC three places to ninth at 7:42, as Alejandro Valverde rose a spot to 10th thanks to his antics in the break.
Guillaume Martin (Cofidis) had been in the break but was dropped well before the finish to drop from 10th to 16th. No doubt yo-yoing Frenchman will look to gain some of that time back on stage 17.