Etixx – Quick-Step had another successful season in 2016, with 56 road wins alongside 68 other podium places. Over the next weeks we will look back on the 10 biggest moments for the team in the 2016 season. We start with Dan Martin's impressive ride at the 96th Volta a Catalunya.
Stage 3 of the Volta a Catalunya, one of the oldest races in the world, was peppered with four classified climbs, last one on the menu coming right at the finish. Averaging 4.5% over 11 kilometers, La Molina was featuring on the course for the third consecutive year and was expected to give a clear indication on who was in the mix for the general classification.
The break of the day was basically doomed from the start, as the peloton didn't allow the riders at the front to push for a big lead. Once the escapees were reeled in, both Chris Froome and Nairo Quintana put in a charge hoping to shake off the peloton, but all they could do was to stretch out the group, before Dan Martin launched his own bid for glory with 500 meters to go.
The Irishman's devastating turn of speed left his opponents without an answer, as the Etixx – Quick-Step rider stormed to the line and claimed the win on the snow-capped summit, ahead of Alberto Contador and Romain Bardet.
"On that day in the morning, the guys said they will ride for me and they were incredible, doing a truly fantastic job! I knew that finish, and what helped is that it was similar to the one in Valenciana, Alto de Fredes, where I nabbed my first victory in the Etixx – Quick-Step jersey", said Dan, who scored his second career stage win at the Volta a Catalunya and took the leader's jersey in the process.
"In the key moments I stayed at the front and was relaxed at all times, carefully waiting for the right moment to make my move. I remember there was some headwind on the climb, so it was important to time the attack to perfection on that steep part of La Molina, which I did. For sure, it was one of my best days of the year", concluded the Etixx – Quick-Step rider, who went on to finish third the Spanish World Tour race, just a couple of seconds behind the winner.
Photo credit: ©Tim De Waele