Martin climbs to sixth on Volta a Catalunya queen-stage
Lo Port, a beast of a climb and the race's final summit arrival, saw the contenders fight for the win and the always-important bonus seconds.
A big breakaway took off on Coll de Fatxes after the first hour of racing at stage 5 (Valls – Lo Port, 182 kilometers) of Volta a Catalunya, and Laurens De Plus, one of the most talented young riders of the peloton, was there with 13 other riders, all far back in the general classification of the race. As a result, the peloton wasn't too worried about this move and let the escapees take a maximum gap of five minutes before pushing on the pedal and eventually reeling them in with around 30 kilometers left.
The day's final and main test was Lo Port, an 8.4km climb averaging 9%, which was returning to the race after a 26-year hiatus. There, Movistar pulled a relentless pace and under their impetus gaps began to form between the overall contenders before the last kilometers. Then, after they finished their job, Jarlinson Pantano moved to the front and whittled down the pack with three kilometers remaining, dropping GC leader Tejay van Garderen (BMC).
Inside the final two kilometers, Alejandro Valverde took advantage of how the race had unfolded up until that point, attacking from a select group which included Chris Froome (Team Sky) and Alberto Contador (Trek-Segafredo), and taking both the win and the leader's jersey.
Dan Martin was the one to fly again the team colors for Quick-Step Floors, and the 30-year-old Irishman finished sixth on this grueling special-category climb, not far off the first three. His effort and never-say-die attitude once the gradient went up beared fruit at the end of the day, as Dan jumped five places in the overall standings of the Volta a Catalunya and will now go into the week-end lying 9th in the rankings.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele