For Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka the stage began with Omar Fraile unable to take the start. Fraile had been ill in the weeks leading up to the Volta Ciclista a Catalunya and after the first two stages it was evident that Fraile needed a few more days of recovery despite finishing both stages. Nevertheless, things were soon looking upward for our African Team again as Johann van Zyl jumped into the 7 rider break of the day.
Our South African breakaway specialist and his 6 companions quickly built up a large 12-minute lead over the peloton, before Team Sky started chasing with some real urgency. With 4 category 1 climbs on the menu today, it was going to be a tough day with the big names of World Tour stage racing expected to feature in the finale. With 35km and two ascents of the Alt de La Molina to go, the break was neutralised by Team Sky.
On the penultimate climb, Pieter Weening (Roompot) tried his luck with a solo escape but he only made it as far as the lower slopes of the final climb. Louis Vervaeke (Lotto-Soudal) then also went into the lead momentarily. The showdown between the big names would eventually materialise though as the attacking began with 2km to go. At this point, Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka had Merhawi Kudus among the action with our young Eritrean trying to follow the attacks of Wout Poels (Team Sky) and Nairo Quintana (Movistar).
In the end it was Martin who came over the top of Quintana's attack to take a good victory. Kudus rode strongly to round out the top 20, a good result for the young man against nearly all of the best climbers in the world. Some less positive news from out on the course was that Adrien Niyonshuti had to abandon the race mid-stage today. Niyonshuti picked up a cold last night and today he was coughing quite a bit while also battling to breath. It was a difficult decision for our Rwandan star but he eventually stopped and will now focus on his recovery.