Dan Martin moves into Volta a Catalunya lead with solo victory on queen stage
Ireland's Dan Martin climbed into the lead of the Volta a Catalunya with a solo victory on stage four.
By Matt Westby
Last Updated: 21/03/13 7:12pm
The Garmin-Sharp rider joined an early 23-man breakaway before surging clear on the ascent to the summit finish at Port-Aine Rialp, where he crossed the line 35 seconds ahead of Joaquim Rodriguez in second and Nairo Quintana in third.
Sir Bradley Wiggins followed 1:02 down in sixth after Team Sky had exhausted themselves leading the chasing peloton over the day's final two climbs, an effort that was ultimately in vain.
Martin now takes over the leader's jersey from Alejandro Valverde, who abandoned the race mid-stage following a crash, with Rodriguez 10 seconds behind in second and Quintana 32 seconds back in third.
Wiggins rallied in the final kilometre to limit his damage and now sits 36 seconds adrift in fourth overall.
The race's fourth stage took the riders on a punishing 217km route that started in Llanars and crested five categorised ascents.
All teams were keen to get men up the road and a huge breakaway consequently formed on the first climb of the day, with Martin being joined by, among others, Ryder Hesjedal (Garmin-Sharp), Nicolas Roche (Saxo-Tinkoff), Jesus Herrada (Movistar), Carlos Betancur (Ag2r-La Mondiale), Ivan Santaromita (BMC) and Steven Kruijswijk (Blanco).
With only two teams not represented in the break, the escapees were allowed to build up a gap that held at around 2:45 until Valverde hit the deck on a speedy descent and the peloton slowed momentarily to wait for him, stretching the advantage to 4:20.
However, it started to tumble as the breakaway haemorrhaged riders on the first of two hors-categorie climbs, Port de Canto, with 45km remaining.
Team Sky led the chase in the peloton with Josh Edmondson, Dario Cataldo, David Lopez and Rigoberto Uran drivng up a fierce pace as they looked to usher leader Wiggins up to the front of the race.
Martin goes it alone
Ireland's Roche responded by breaking clear on his own, but was soon caught and overtaken by Martin and Herrada as they looked to hold off the Sky charge.
Martin, who started the day ninth in the general classification, then dropped Herrada on the concluding hors-categorie climb to Port-Aine Rialp, before pushing on to complete arguably the finest performance of his career.
Back down the road, after most of Sky's support riders had burnt themselves out on the chase, Quintana and then Rodriguez both attacked out of the peloton and opened up substantial gaps, leaving Wiggins to limit the damage.
Stage four result
1 Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin-Sharp, 6:02.40
2 Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha, +36secs
3 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar, same time
4 Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Lotto-Beliso, +47
5 Robert Gesink (Ned) Blanco, +51
6 Bradley Wiggins (GB) Team Sky, +1.02
7 Peter Stetina (USA) Garmin-Sharp, st
8 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre-Merida, st
9 Tom Danielson (USA) Garmin-Sharp, st
10 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ, +1.08
1 Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin-Sharp, 18:48.38
2 Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha, +10secs
3 Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar, +32
4 Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Team Sky, +36
5 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre-Merida, +39
6 Robert Gesink (Ned) Blanco, +51
7 Przemyslaw Niemiec (Pol) Lampre-Merida, +1.00
8 Peter Stetina (USA) Garmin-Sharp, +1.07
9 Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ, +1.13
10 Jurgen Van Den Broeck (Bel) Lotto-Belisol, +1.15