Ireland’s Dan Martin (Garmin-Sharp) has won the 2013 Volta a Catalunya.
The Birmingham-born rider enjoyed a quiet final stage to complete the most significant win of his career after finishing fourth in last year’s Volta and second the year before.
Martin’s victory comes at the expense of some of the biggest names in the sport.
World number one, Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha), finished second, while Michele Scarponi (Lampre-ISD), promoted to winner of the 2011 Giro d’Italia following the disqualification of Alberto Contador, was third.
“The Shark” earned his place on the podium by riding an aggressive final stage and supplanting Movistar’s Nairo Quintana, winner of stage four.
Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky), reigning Tour de France champion, was fifth.
Victory on the day was claimed by Thomas de Gendt (Vacansoleil-DCM) who triumphed at the end of a long breakaway.
The final stage was fast and furious and conducted on a challenging parcours, concluded by seven circuits of the Olympic Park at Barcelona featuring seven ascents of the Alt de Montjuic.
Ten riders moved clear as the peloton entered Barcelona, but were forced to ride hard by the Katusha-driven bunch, riding in the hope that the 17-second gap between Martin and their man, Rodriguez, might be closed.
A frenetic pace took its toll on the breakaway, which began to shrink from its original 10-man confederacy, but reinforcements arrived in the shape of Scarponi and Kiserovski.
Movistar joined Garmin-Sharp’s effort to reel in the breakaway, perhaps sensing too late the threat posed to Quintana’s podium spot by Scarponi’s attack.
Meanwhile, up ahead, Lopez launched a bid for solo victory, driving clear in what looked like a successful break, but which was hauled back with just one kilometre to go.
Seizing the moment, De Gendt roared past Lopez and the quartet of remaining breakaway riders to clinch a commanding victory.
With memories of his magnificent victory on the Queen stage of the 2012 Giro still fresh in the memory, and his form clearly returned, the Belgian could be a key player should he contest this year’s corsa rosa.
Martin, however, should be given time to enjoy his biggest victory since winning the 2010 Tour of Poland.
Volta a Catalunya 2012 – stage seven – result
1) Thomas De Gendt (BEL) – Vacansoleil-DCM – 2.45.42
2) David Lopez Garcia (SPA) – Team Sky
3) Robert Kiserlovski (CRO) – RadioShack Leopard
4) Michele Scarponi (ITA) – Lampre-Merida
5) Samuel Dumoulin (FRA) – Ag2R-La Mondiale +21”
6) Julien Simon (FRA) – Sojasun
7) Manuele Mori (ITA) – Lampre-Merida
8) Travis Meyer (AUS) – Orica-GreenEdge
9) Gianluca Brambilla (ITA) – Omega Pharma-QuickStep
10) Jakob Fuglsang (DEN) – Astana
1) Daniel Martin (IRL) – Garmin-Sharp – 29.02.25
2) Joaquim Rodriguez (SPA) – Katusha +17”
3) Michele Scarponi (ITA) – Lampre-Merida +34”
4) Nairo Quintana (COL) – Movistar +45”
5) Bradley Wiggins (GBR) – Team Sky +54”
6) Robert Gesink (NED) – Blanco Pro Cycling +1.07
7) Przemyslaw Niemiec (POL) – Lampre-Merida +1.18
8) Thibaut Pinot (FRA) – FDJ +1.26
9) Jurgen Van Den Broeck (BEL) – Lotto-Belisol +1.28
10) Thomas Danielson (USA) – Garmin-Sharp +1.41