GIRONA, Spain (AP) Domenico Pozzovivo of Italy surged ahead of the lead pack to win the third stage of the Volta a Catalunya on Wednesday, while Pierre Rolland of France became the overall race leader.
Pozzovivo, who rides for Ag2r-La Mondiale, finished three seconds ahead of Colombia's Rigoberto Uran and third-place Daniel Martin of Ireland.
''I got my head down between the handlebars and went for it,'' Pozzovivo said. ''I knew tomorrow was going to be a tough day and, as I felt good today, it worked out.''
The race was fragmented into several groups after two spills, one of which brought down Alejandro Valverde on a bend as he reached the crest of the category 1 Alt dels Angels ascent.
Valverde had been in the lead pack as riders took advantage of a rain-free day to set a fast pace on the 156.6 kilometer (97.3 mile) mountain stage, which featured two category 1 climbs in the countryside around Girona.
Before the final climb, the lead group which included Spain's Alberto Contador and Andrew Talansky of the United States had opened up a 12-second gap over the pack.
Contador tried to break away during the climb but was soon caught up by the lead pack and finished fourth.
Rolland finished in 20th place, 22 seconds behind Pozzovivo. The Europcar rider has a 1:08 lead over Poland's Maciej Paterski.
Thursday's stage is a mountainous 188.4 kilometer (117 mile) ride from Tona to La Molina.