Dan Martin wins Volta a Catalunya as Thomas de Gendt claims final stage
Ireland's Dan Martin completed overall victory of the Volta a Catalunya.
By Matt Westby
Last Updated: 24/03/13 7:44pm
The Garmin-Sharp rider went into the day defending a 17-second lead and came under intense pressure when Rodriguez launched a desperate bid to overhaul him on the last climb.
But Martin was able to follow and subsequently crossed the finish line alongside the Spaniard, who had to settle for runner-up overall.
Sir Bradley Wiggins fell to fifth in the general classification after Michele Scarponi broke clear of the peloton in the closing stages and finished 21 seconds ahead of the Briton, leapfrogging both him and Colombia's Nairo Quintana into third.
Martin said: "Winning here in Catalunya is very special, it is my home. The whole team has done a lot of great work on each stage.
"We have had to defend ourselves from a lot of different attacks. Right up until the last lap we had to suffer and Rodriguez made several really difficult moves."
The stage was won by Belgium's Thomas de Gendt, who joined Scarponi in the late breakaway and then outsprinted Spain's David Lopez into second and Croatia's Robert Kiserlovski into third.
The race's final stage took the riders on a 122km route starting in El Vendrell and ending with eight laps of a circuit around the Olympic Park, taking in a climb of Alt de Montjuic each time.
Ten riders made an early breakaway and opened up a gap of over 3min 30secs, but they were swiftly reeled in as the race entered the Catalan capital.
A new break formed when De Gendt (Vacansoleil-DCM), Tim Wellens (Lotto-Belisol) and Lopez (Team Sky) gapped the main bunch, and they were later joined by Kiserlovski (RadioShack-Leopard) and Scarponi (Lampre-Merida), who started the day fifth overall.
Lopez attacked on the final climb of the Montjuic and looked to have established a decisive gap, but he ran out of legs on the descent and was caught by his fellow escapees with 600m to go.
That set up a sprint to the line, which De Gendt won comfortably after Lopez had launched his bid for the line first.
"I knew I was the fastest and was happy to show that," De Gendt said. "Winning is good for the confidence."
Back down the road, Rodriguez (Katusha) had waited until the last ascent of the Montjuic to attack Martin, but although his burst was stinging, the gradient was not sufficient enough to put the champion-elect in difficulty and the Irishman was able to follow.
Martin is only the second Irish winner of the Volta a Catalunya, after Sean Kelly claimed victory twice in three years between 1984 and 1986.
Stage seven result
1 Thomas De Gendt (Bel) Vacansoleil-DCM, 2:45.42
2 David Lopez (Spa) Team Sky, same time
3 Robert Kiserlovski (Cro) RadioShack-Leopard, st
4 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre-Merida, st
5 Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) Ag2r-La Mondiale, +21
6 Julien Simon (Fra) Sojasun, st
7 Manuele Mori (Ita) Lampre-Merida, st
8 Travis Meyer (Aus) Orica-GreenEDGE, st
9 Gianluca Brambilla (Ita) Omega Pharma - Quick-Step, st
10 Jakob Fuglsang (Den) Astana, st
1 Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin-Sharp, 29:02.25
2 Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha, +17secs
3 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre-Merida, +34
4 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar, +45
5 Bradley Wiggins (GB) Team Sky, +54
6 Robert Gesink (Ned) Blanco, 1.07
7 Pzemyslaw Niemiec (Pol) Lampre-Merida, 1.18
8 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ, 1.26
9 Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Lotto-Belisol, +1.28
10 Tom Danielson (USA) Garmin-Sharp, +1.41