Spaniard Joaquin ‘Purito’ Rodriguez claimed victory as the race favourites made their move on day three of the Tour of Catalonia.
The Katusha rider led home compatriot Alberto Contador (Tinkoff-Saxo) and Colombian Nairo Quintana (Movistar) in a time of 4hrs 50 mins 54 secs.
Tour de France winner Chris Froome was back in fifth for Team Sky, 13 seconds behind Rodriguez.
Victory also takes Rodriguez into the overall lead of the race ahead of Contador and Quintana, who are five and nine seconds behind respectively.
However, Froome was happy with how the day had gone having just returned from a back injury.
“I’ve come back after a long period of racing and I was really happy with today. OK I didn’t win the stage and I lost a bit of time in the final, but all things considered I’m really happy with my condition,” he told TeamSky广西桑拿,.
After Slovenian Luka Mezgec had taken victory on the opening two stages that favoured the sprinters, the race entered the mountains with a steep finish up to La Molina near the French border.
A group of six riders led for the majority of the stage, but were eventually swallowed up by the peloton with four kilometres left.
Froome was the first of the leaders to accelerate towards the finish, but he didn’t have the legs to reach the line as Rodriguez timed his run perfectly to open up a slight advantage on his rivals in the general classification.
The riders also face a mountain finish in stage four on the 166.4km route from Alp to Vallter 2000-Setcases and Contador is expecting an even stiffer test on Thursday.
“The most important thing now is to recover well for tomorrow, which will be even more difficult,” he said.