Volta a Catalunya 2016: Dan Martin earns race lead with stage three win

Birmingham-born Irishman victorious on La Molina

Dan Martin (Etixx-QuickStep) won stage three of the Volta a Catalunya to pull on the leader’s jersey ahead of the queen stage.

Martin accelerated in the final kilometre as an elite front group hit the final part of La Molina together.

After a series of attacks, with Nairo Quintana (Movistar) in particular active, it was Martin’s move which stuck as he crossed the line two seconds ahead of Alberto Contador (Tinkoff).

Chris Froome and his Team Sky team-mates had been gathered near the front for much of the race, but the Tour de France champion could only finish eighth, 12 seconds back.

Dan Martin won stage three of the Volta a Catalunya and now leads overall (pic: Tim de Waele/EQS)

Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx-QuickStep), Bouwman, Kevin Reza (FDJ), Alex Howes (Cannondale), Johann Van Zyl (Dimension Data), Jan Hirt (CCC Sprandi Polkowice) and Huub Duijn (Roompot-Oranje Peloton) forced the early break and were allowed plenty of freedom – their advantage reaching 12 minutes.

Back in the bunch, race leader Nacer Bouhanni (Cofidis) – who had hinted at illness after the previous stage – opted to end his race early, following his back-to-back stage wins.

Up the road, the large lead was quickly eaten into, and soon only Howes and Duijn remained up the road.

Pieter Weening spotted an opportunity to accelerate on the snow-lined roads, attacking on the penultimate ascent and quickly passing Howes before accelerating again after a brief sit on his team-mate Duuijn’s wheel.

Team Sky responded by hitting the front in numbers on the climb, dictating the tempo on the first ascent of La Molina and they had the Dutchman in their sights on the way back down.

On the battle for position in Alp, with Weening still up the road, a touch of wheels took Louis Meintjes out (Lampre-Merida) but the other climbers remained well-placed.

Jarlinson Pantano (IAM Cycling) was first to attack from the peloton, before white jersey Louis Vervaeke (Lotto-Soudal) put a solo dig in.

Vervaeke caught Weening to enjoy a little bit of respite on his wheel, while further back Sky still had numbers on the front having trimmed the peloton down with their earlier pace-setting.

Vervaeke pressed on alone with eight kilometres left to race but Team Sky continued unabated as the young Belgian repeatedly checked back over his shoulder.

His solo effort ended just underneath the 4km banner, with Sky still happy to set the pace on the front as their rivals tucked in behind.

Wout Poels (Team Sky) attacked with two kilometres to go, but Contador was wise to it before Nairo Quintana went, tracked by Ilnur Zakarin (Katusha).

Next to kick on was Richie Porte (BMC Racing) but Chris Froome was on his former team-mate’s wheel into the final kilometre.

Quintana kicked again on the steepest section and earned a gap but Martin accelerated with perfect timing to go a few lengths clear.

With Sky now nowhere to be seen, it was Contador closest to Martin, but the Birmingham-born Irishman could not be stopped and will wear the leader’s jersey on the Queen Stage.

Froome was not the only Brit in the top ten, meanwhile, with Hugh Carthy (Caja Rural) bagging ninth place, six seconds behind the Team Sky man.


Volta a Catalunya 2016: stage three – result

1) Daniel Martin (IRL) – Etixx-QuickStep – 5.00.27hrs
2) Alberto Contador (ESP) – Tinkoff +2”
3) Romain Bardet (FRA) – Ag2r-La Mondiale – ST
4) Tejay van Garderen (USA) – BMC Racing
5) Richie Porte (AUS) – BMC Racing +9”
6) Davide Formolo (ITA) – Cannondale +11”
7) Ilnur Zakarin (RUS) – Katusha +12”
8) Chris Froome (GBR) – Team Sky – ST
9) Hugh Carthy (GBR) – Caja Rural +18”
10) Rigoberto Uran (COL) – Cannondale – ST

General classification

1) Daniel Martin (IRL) – Etixx-QuickStep – 14.08.18hrs
2) Alberto Contador (ESP) – Tinkoff +6”
3) Romain Bardet (FRA) – Ag2r-La Mondiale +8”
4) Tejay van Garderen (USA) – BMC Racing +12”
5) Richie Porte (AUS) – BMC Racing +19”
6) Davide Formolo (ITA) – Cannondale +21”
7) Chris Froome (GBR) – Team Sky +22”
8) Ilnur Zakarin (RUS) – Katusha – ST
9) Geraint Thomas (GBR) – Team Sky +28”
10) Rigoberto Uran (COL) – Cannondale – ST

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