By Nigel Wynn
Nairo Quintana (Movistar) won stage three of the Volta a Catalunya on Wednesday in an explosive finale at the ski resort of Vallter 2000 near Girona. Once again, Bradley Wiggins (Sky) rode aggressively to put pressure on his rivals.
Quintana's Movistar team-mate Valverde placed second at six seconds, with Joaquim Rodriguez (Katusha) in third and Wiggins in fourth at the same time.
Valverde moved into the overall race lead, six seconds ahead of Rodriguez with Wiggins in third at 10 seconds.
Race hits the mountains
The day's four-man break split into two groups with 40km to go, with Nicolas Edet (Cofidis) and Karol Domagalski (Caja Rural) ahead of Martin Kohler (BMC Racing) and Lucas Haedo (Cannondale).
Edet dropped Domagalski on the final ascent to the ski resort of Vallter 2000 and managed to hang out until 4km to go, when Jurgen van den Broeck (Lotto-Belisol) leapt out of the peloton and then passed the Cofidis man.
Van den Broeck couldn't keep up the momentum and was caught by the Sky-led bunch with 2km to go when Tom Danielson (Garmin-Sharp) struck out on the winding road edged by thick snow. Danielson's move was the catalyst for the main contenders to chase him down.
Wiggins was the next to attack inside the final kilometre, marked closely by Quintana. The Colombian sat tight on Wiggins' wheel and then accelerated as Rodriguez simultaneously put in a move followed by Valverde.
Rodriguez couldn't match Quintana's pace, and Valverde edged in for second to give Movistar a one-two. Wiggins came in fourth.
The race stays in the mountains tomorrow for the toughest stage - a 218km trip that concludes with a climb up Port Aine Rialp, topping out at around 2000 metres above sea level. The race concludes on Sunday, March 24 in Barcelona.
Volta a Catalunya 2013, stage three: Vidreres to Vallter 2000, 180.1km
1. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar in 5-01-20
2. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar at 6 secs
3. Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha
4. Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky at same time
5. Thibaut Pinot (Fra) FDJ at 9 secs
6. Peter Stetina (USA) Garmin-Sharp
7. Michele Scarponi (Ita) Lampre-Merida
8. Przemyslaw Niemiec (Pol) Lampre-Merida
9. Rigoberto Uran (Col) Sky at same time
10. Domenico Pozzovivo (Ita) Ag2r-La Mondiale at 21 secs
Overall classification after stage three
1. Alejandro Valverde (Spa) Movistar in 12-24-22
2. Joaquim Rodriguez (Spa) Katusha at 6 secs
3. Bradley Wiggins (GBr) Sky at 10 secs
4. Michele Sacrponi (Ita) Lampre-Merida at 13 secs
5. Przemyslaw Niemiec (Pol) Lampre-Merida at 13 secs
6. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar at 22 secs
7. Robert Gesink (Ned) Blanco at 36 secs
8. David Lopez (Spa) Sky at 36 secs
9. Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin-Sharp at 36 secs
10. Peter Stetina (USA) Garmin-Sharp at 41 secs
Simon Spilak leads Bradley Wiggins
Bradley Wiggins attacks, followed by Nairo Quintana
Nairo Quintana wins
Alejandro Valverde takes the race lead
Volta a Catalunya 2013: Related links
Stage two: Gianni Meersman makes it two from two
Stage one: Wiggins makes aggressive start in Catalunya
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