Dan Martin (Quick Step Floors) came close to taking his third ever stage win at the Volta a Catalunya today when he finished second on the first summit finish of this year’s race at La Molina.
The third stage included three first-category climbs, including the 8.6km-long summit finish of La Molina which averaged 5.6%.
It took around 40 kilometres for a break to form, which was made of Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe), Natnael Berhane (Dimension Data), Pieter Serry (Quick Step Floors) and Dylan Page (Caja Rural), and this group gained a lead of seven minutes.
The peloton led by Team Sky cut into their lead and by the start of the final, the riders remaining out front had an advantage of just 1’20”. The headwind and high pace stopped any attacks from the ever-diminishing peloton until Martin who won last year on La Molina went clear with 200 metres left and was followed only by Alejandro Valverde (Movistar).
Martin led as they went into the final hairpin, but the Spaniard came past him with 50 meters to go and took the victory. For Martin, this was his third World Tour podium of the season, one which brings him back into contention for a solid GC result in Spain.
“We had a good tactic today, sending Pieter in the break and then waiting to see how the race unfolds. On the final kilometres of La Molina there was a powerful headwind, so it was pretty difficult to make a move. Still, I was confident I could take the victory, and that’s why I attacked 200 meters from the finish, but Alejandro was very strong. I wanted to repeat last year’s win, and even though I didn’t do it, I remain upbeat, as I am sure other opportunities will come this week”, said Martin, who made a huge jump in the general classification after this first test on the mountains at the Volta a Catalunya.