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Hirt hoping to profit from Tour of Oman GC win

The final podium of the 2022 Tour of Oman (l-r) Fausto Masnanda, Jan Hirt and Rui Costa
The final podium of the 2022 Tour of Oman (l-r) Fausto Masnanda, Jan Hirt and Rui Costa (Image credit: Getty Images)

A day after Jan Hirt took his first win in six years – "five and a half" he corrects – on the steep slopes of the Green Mountain the Czech rider duly sealed overall victory at the Tour of Oman after a final sprint stage in Matrah Corniche.

Since last winning a race back at the Tour of Austria in mid-2016 – where he also won a stage – the 31-year-old has had a quiet time of things, results-wise, with perhaps fifth place at the 2019 Tour de Suisse his standout moment since then.

But, to paraphrase the old adage – you wait years for a win and then two come along at once. In the end, the Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert leader easily sealed the general classification title by a full minute from the deposed leader Fausto Masnada (QuickStep-AlphaVinyl).

"It's a good feeling," Hirt told Cyclingnews and derailleur after taking the plaudits of the assembled crowd on the final podium. "We didn't come here for the GC victory; we were dreaming about a stage victory, and we did it. This is a huge bonus. I think it's really good for the team that we also have some GC stage race wins.

"Our team was incredible here. We were controlling almost every day. We did a really, really huge effort. Everybody was focussed, and in the end, it brings us this big success, which is perfect. It's good promise for next races because it means I start the season in my first race with a victory and every time it gives you a lot of morale."

Hirt said that stage 6, which took in two sharp climbs en route to a flat finish, posed little threat to his GC position through the day, even with a mid-stage attack from sixth-placed Kevin Vauquelin gaining 30 seconds at one point.

In fact, the biggest danger of the day came via an attack from Team DSM, which originated when part of the peloton had stopped for a nature break – a public act which has been heavily policed via race radio during the race in the Muslim state – Hirt said.

"No, we didn't – we didn't really get in the trouble today.  I think with team of protect me really well. And yeah, we didn't have really, really serious troubles.

"I think the more dangerous was from the DSM attack at when we stop stop for for the toilet. This was a little bit surprise for everybody, I don't know what it was, but I think this was the most dangerous moment today."

Now, after kicking off his 2022 campaign with double success, Hirt said that he will be looking to take this new-found confidence forward into his upcoming races, with the next stop for him being next week's UAE Tour.

"I mean when you feel when you have a good shape you want to prove yourself somewhere," he said. "I have to profit on it that I now right now, I feel good.

"So, I will try to race as much as possible now and make some more results because you never know when your good condition stops and then you cannot make a good result anymore."

Hirt could soon be joined out on the road by new teammate Domenico Pozzovivo, whose signing with Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert was confirmed on Monday. The Italian climber has raced every Giro d'Italia since 2010, winning a stage and taking five top 10s along the way. Four of Hirt's eight Grand Tour appearances have also come in Italy.

"I'm not sure yet," he said about racing the Giro. "But normally I do almost every year the Giro. So it's a possibility that I will also this year, but we will see, we still nothing sure.

"Of course, I know who [Pozzovivo] is in the races – a strong climber. I don't know what's the plan with the team yet with him because it's a new signing, so we didn't meet yet on training camp or somewhere.

"So, I don't know if what's the goal for the team with Domenico. But yeah, for sure I think we can help each other."

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Daniel Ostanek is production editor at Cyclingnews, having joined in 2017 as a freelance contributor and later being hired as staff writer. Before Cyclingnews, he was published in numerous publications around the cycling world, including Procycling, CyclingWeekly, CyclingTips, Cyclist, and Rouleur, among others. As well as reporting and writing news and features, Daniel runs the 'How to watch' content throughout the season.

Daniel has reported from the world's top races, including the Tour de France, and has interviewed a number of the sport's biggest stars, including Egan Bernal, Wout van Aert, Remco Evenepoel, Mark Cavendish, and Anna van der Breggen. Daniel rides a 2002 Landbouwkrediet Colnago C40 and his favourite races are Strade Bianche and the Vuelta a España.