Tony Martin showed exactly why he is time trial world champion by making a winning solo move at the end of stage two of the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana in Spain.
Martin powered away from his rivals to take his first victory for his new team, Katusha-Alpecin.
A high-quality group of six chasers that included Nairo Quintana (Movistar) worked together to try and bring back Martin but even their combined power could not ensure the catch.
Martin took the victory with Pim Ligthart (Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij) bringing home the chasers for second at 11 seconds, with Primoz Roglic (LottoNL-Jumbo) in third. Quintana finished seventh at 12 seconds, putting him in a good position for the days to come.
Soon after the start in Alicante, Johan Van Zyl (Dimension Data), Héctor Sáez (Caja Rural) and Cyril Gautier (Ag2r La Mondiale) formed an escape, and spent most of the hilly stage out front.
Sáez was dropped after first of two passes of Alto de Montgó on the finishing circuit, leaving Van Zyl – celebrating his birthday – and Gautier. The peloton made the catch with around 15km to go.
The final climb of Alto de Montgó proved to be the flashpoint of the race. David De La Cruz (Quick-Step Floors) was the first to attack, followed closely by Martin.
Martin was evidently the stronger, and led the way over the top of the climb and with 6km to go on the twisting descent and subsequent roundabout-strewn run-in to the finish.
He eased into his time trial position, keeping low over the bars and gave a masterclass in bike handling and time trialling to take the win.
After placing eighth, Greg Van Avermaet relieves BMC team-mate Manuel Senni of the overall race lead.
The 2017 edition of the UCI 2.1-ranked Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana continues on Friday with stage three, running from Canals to Riba-Roja de Túria over a hilly 161km route. The race concludes on Sunday, February 5.
Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana 2017, stage two: Alicante to Denia, 180.6km
1. Tony Martin (Ger) Katusha-Alpecin
2. Pic Ligthart (Ned) Roompot-Nederlandse Loterij, at 11 secs
3. Primoz Roglic (Slo) LottoNL-Jumbo
4. Davide De La Cruz (Esp) Quick-Step Floors, at same time
5. Michele Scarponi (Ita) Astana, at 12 secs
6. Amaro Antunes (Por) W52-FC Porto
7. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar, at same time
8. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing, at 19 secs
9. Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Quick-Step Floors, at same time
10. Kristian Sbaragli (Ita) Dimension Data at 20 secs
General classification after stage two
1. Greg Van Avermaet (Bel) BMC Racing, in 5-28-11
2. Manuel Senni (Ita) BMC Racing, at same time
3. Ben Hermans (Bel) BMC Racing, at same time
4. David Lopez (Esp) Team Sky, at 21 secs
5. Nicolas Roche (Irl) BMC Racing, at 37 secs
6. David De La Cruz (Esp) Quick-Step Floors, at 41 secs
7. Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Quick-Step Floors, at 49 secs
8. Zdenek Stybar (Cze) Quick-Step Floors, at 49 secs
9. Daniel Martin (Irl) Quick-Step Floors, at 49 secs
10. Nairo Quintana (Col) Movistar, at 54 secs