First and second on the La Molina climb last year as rivals, Tejay van Garderen and Richie Porte were third and fourth respectively for BMC on the corresponding stage in the 2016 edition of the Volta a Catalunya with Dan Martin repeating his 2013 triumph on the climb.
The stage win also saw Martin climb into the overall race lead as Nacer Bouhanni abandoned with illness, although the sprinter was unlikely to challenge for a third straight victory.
After the first of two challenging days in the Pyrenees, van Garderen is 12 seconds down on the Etixx-Quick Step rider with Porte at 19 seconds. While the Team Sky duo of Chris Froome and Geraint Thomas struggled on the climb, Alberto Contador (Tinkoff), Romain Bardet (AG2R-La Mondiale) and Nairo Quintana (Movistar) all found their climbing legs.
“I wish I had a bit more response in my legs to get directly of Martin’s wheel when he went, but instead I had to slowly claw back and it cost a bit of energy. It was a good finish and both Richie and I were up there,” van Garderen said of the stage.
With two riders in the top five, Porte added he and van Garderen are well placed as their rivals look to make up time on the Port Ainé summit finish.
“It was good effort from Tejay and I think. Its not up to us to make the race so we are in a good position now I think,” Porte said.
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