Ireland’s Dan Martin gave his Belgian team Etixx-Quickstep a boost on Wednesday when beating off a bunch of climb specialists to a snow-capped summit win on stage three of the Tour of Catalonia.
The victory also gives Martin the overall lead after he attacked 500m from home after Chris Froome and Nairo Quintana had first tried to shake off a group of around 30 who led the race up the fourth climb of the day.
At the 1725m high Molina ski station the 29-year-old Martin dug deep to hold off Alberto Contador of Tinkoff, two seconds adrift in second, and up-and-coming French climber Romain Bardet of AG2R in third.
Tejay Van Garderen and Richie Porte of the American BMC team were fourth and fifth while Chris Froome of Sky, the first to try and break, was 12sec behind Martin.
Earlier in the day French rider Nacer Bouhanni, the overnight leader after two bunch sprint stage wins, pulled out with a stomach complaint.
Froome, Quintana and other mountain specialists will get a chance on Thursday to reel in main threat Contador when the fourth stage takes in a pure climber’s summit finish after two other category one mountains at Pyrenean ski station Port Aine.