Team Dimension Data’s Igor Anton took seventh place on stage three of the Vuelta a Espana from Marín to Dumbria on Monday.
The 176.4km stage was won by Alexandre Geniez (FDJ) with general classification leader Ruben Fernandez (Movistar) second and Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) third.
Anton said he liked the Vuelta and he knew the final climb well.
“It was really hard which was very good for me. The most important thing was to start the race in good condition and so today’s result has been good for my confidence.
“I know there is still a long way to go but I was really happy with how today finished.”
The day consisted of three categorised climbs coming in the last half of the stage.
While the final climb, the Mirador, was only 1.8km long, it had an average gradient of over 13% and ramps peaking at 30%, making it one of the steepest climbs of the year.
The general consensus was that the GC contenders would decide the stage but the breakaway had other ideas.
Seven riders formed the early escape of the day and Team Sky set the tempo in the peloton.
For a large part of the stage, the gap was around the five-minute mark.
When the break reached the Alto de Lestaio with 66km to go, Simon Pellaud (IAM Cycling) upped the tempo in the break by going clear.
The Swiss rider was able to push the lead up to just over seven minutes and he was later joined by two of his original breakaway partners, Pieter Serry (Etixx-Quickstep) and Geniez.
Team Sky kept controlling the pace in the peloton but it was clear the break would arrive at the foot of the Mirador with a healthy lead.
With 1.8km to go, the leading trio started the final climb 2’15” ahead of the peloton.
Team Dimension Data were riding hard in the approach to the climb in order to give Anton a good starting position for the steep ramp.
Movistar were the aggressors from the peloton as their trio of Fernandez, Valverde and Nairo Quintana attacked on the lower slopes of the climb.
Esteban Chaves (Orica-BikeExchange) was the only other rider able to follow the pace of the Spanish team.
Chris Froome (Team Sky) and Anton did not respond immediately to the acceleration, but both riders rode a consistent tempo to claw back the three Spaniards and Columbian with a few hundred metres to go.
Geniez had enough left in the tank to survive to the finish and to win the stage, while the other two were caught by the GC contenders.
Anton followed Quintana home to take an impressive seventh place, shooting up the general classification from 72nd to 14th position.
View more Vuelta a Espana news, results and information.