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Martin in front of stellar field in Cataluyna


Daniel Martin

Daniel Martin

Daniel Martin

Birmingham-born Irishman Dan Martin won stage three of the Volta a Cataluyna yesterday to seize the race lead.

The 29-year-old finished the 172-kilometres stage from Girona to the summit at La Molina ahead of a stellar field, with Alberto Contador (Tinkoff) second and Romain Bardet (Ag2r La Mondiale) third.

Tour de France champion Chris Froome (Team Sky) was eighth, one place ahead of another Briton, Hugh Carthy (Caja Rural-Seguros).

Martin holds a six-second overall lead from Contador, while Froome sits 22secs behind in seventh and his Team Sky colleague Geraint Thomas is ninth in the race, which finishes on Sunday.

Local favourite Jens Debusschere gave cycling-mad Belgium something to cheer about on Wednesday when he won the Dwars door Vlaanderen one-day race in Waregem, a day after the attacks on Brussels.

They decided, however, that the event would go ahead as scheduled and no incidents were reported along the 199.7-km course. Most riders were wearing black armbands in memory of the victims of the attack.

Some teams, however, were affected because several riders failed to arrive on time after Brussels airport, where one of the blasts occurred, was closed on Tuesday. Spanish team Movistar only had four out of their eight riders at the start and Giant-Alpecin had none.

Lotto-Soudal rider Debusschere, the 2014 Belgian champion, perfectly timed his sprint to beat Frenchman Bryan Coquard (Direct Energie) and another Belgian, Edward Theuns (Trek-Segafredo).