Volta a Catalunya: Hirt in the break on the mountain stage

Daniel Martin attacked in the finale of the first mountainous stage of Volta a Catalunya and earned not only the stage win, but also became new leader of the race. Jan Hirt made the highlights by getting into the breakaway of the day. 

On Stage 3 the peloton entered real, Catalan mountains. Four cat. 1 KOMs and the uphill finish to La Molina guaranteed, that the field will be shattered. The race was preceded by a minute of silence in respect of the victims of the terrorist attack in Brussels.

Soon after the star a 5-man leading group was formed and it included Jan Hirt. He was joined by Johann van Zyl (Dimension Data), Kevin Reza (FDJ), Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx) and Koen Bouwman (Lotto NL). Later Alex Howes (Cannondale) and Huub Duijn (Roompot) bridged the gap, making a 7-man escape of the day.

They pushed the pace and the bunch sat up, letting the escapees gain 12 minutes of advantage. The speed in the field picked up on the first categorized climb Alt de Coubet and at the top the advantage was down to 7:50.

It continue to decrease on the Alt de Toses ascent and eventually Hirt was reeled back in with around 34km to go. Howes and Duijn were the last escapees to get caught. Despite late attack by Pieter Weening (Roompot) on penultimate climb a large group entered final 2 kilometers of the stage.

Big favorites lauanched one attack after another and eventually it was Daniel Martin who powered to victory and an overall lead. He reached the top 2 seconds ahead of Alberto Contador (Tinkoff) and Romain Bardet (AG2R La Mondiale). It was a tough day for CCC Sprandi Polkowice. Victor de la Parte was the top finisher as he took 53rd, 3:51 back.