Dan Martin may have changed teams, but the Etixx-QuickStep rider continues to shine strongly in the Volta a Catalunya, surging past Alberto Contador (Tinkoff) and a host of other top names to take the first mountain top stage win and move into the lead.
A strong wind in the finish kept the favourites grouped together on the final climb of La Molina, which, with its lengthy downhill midsection, was not the hardest of first category climbs. That also made it very difficult to judge exactly when to attack – Chris Froome (Sky), Nairo Quintana (Movistar), Richie Porte (BMC Racing) and Contador were all active on the front before Martin made the definitive move.
To say he races well in the Volta a Catalunya for Martin is an understatement, given that together with Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) he is the most prolifically successful racer in the Catalan race taking part this year. 10th last year, Martin won the Volta outright in 2013, in large part thanks to a win at Port Ainé where the Volta a Catalunya finishes on Thursday. He also has a fourth and two second places overall to his name.
Martin’s affection for Catalunya as a race, too, is clear: Girona was his adopted city for many years until he moved on to Andorra, and at the finish, Martin switched from English to Spanish and Catalan to give his answers.
“With a headwind like that it was very tactical,” Martin observed. “It was wait, wait, wait and when I saw it was 500 metres to go, I know I can do that as fast as anybody. I just had to go all out for 500 metres.”
“I was quite confident to win, but my legs were dying then, although with the altitude it was dificult to make an effort like that. But the team were incredible, all day they were racing for me and giving me the self-belief I needed to try to go for winning the stage.”
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