Martin finishes second on Volta a Catalunya’s first summit finish
The Irishman came close of nabbing his third stage win at the Spanish race, on the climb of La Molina.
Volta a Catalunya continued today with stage 3, which included three first-category climbs, with the 8.6km-long ascent of La Molina – averaging 5.6% – the cherry on the cake. It took around 40 kilometers for a break to form, and when it did, Quick-Step Floors' Pieter Serry was there, together with Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe), Natnael Berhane (Dimension Data) and Dylan Page (Caja Rural), helping the escape put more than seven minutes between them and the bunch led by Team Sky.
Despite the huge margin, the group started to splinter and the gap to melt on the penultimate ascent of the day, so by the foot of La Molina the three riders left at the front held around 1:20 minute over the bunch. One by one, the escapees were caught and the reduced peloton counting 20 riders was left to fight for victory and the bonus seconds.
The high pace and strong headwind preempted any attacks until the last 200 meters, when Dan Martin – the 2016 winner on La Molina – surged clear and was followed only by Alejandro Valverde (Movistar). Quick-Step Floors' Irish rider led as they went into the final hairpin, but the Spaniard came past him with 50 meters to go and took the victory. For Dan, 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 kilometers 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 Dan Martin, who made a huge jump in the general classification after this first test on the mountains at the Volta a Catalunya.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele