Barcelona - Belgium's Thomas De Gendt surprised even himself by shooting to the top of the overall standings at the Tour of Catalonia after he claimed victory in a shortened third stage on Wednesday.
De Gendt took an overall lead of 23 seconds ahead of Spain's Alejandro Valverde, the stage two winner and defending champion, and South African Daryl Impey.
The race had to be shortened after organisers decided to cancel the crucial final Vallter ascent due to dismal weather conditions and the risk of avalanches.
De Gendt broke away 21km from the end and despite a hard chase from Mathias Frank, Adam Yates, Thibaut Pinot and Nairo Quintana, the 31-year-old held on to finish 20 seconds clear.
"I went really full for the last 30km, I didn't think I could make it," De Gendt said afterwards.
"But I had some seconds so I wanted to stay ahead and in the first group if they caught me.
"It was incredible, to stay ahead, of course I didn't expect it."
De Gendt will now look to sustain momentum during Thursday's fourth stage, which runs between Llanars and La Molina. The Tour of Catalonia finishes on Sunday.
Results and overall standings following the third stage of the Tour of Catalonia from Sant Cugat del Valles to Setcases on Wednesday:
1. Thomas De Gendt (BEL/LOT) 153.2 km in 4hr 13min 48sec, 2. Simon Yates (GBR/MIT) at 20 sec, 3. Thibaut Pinot (FRA/FDJ) 20, 4. Mathias Frank (SUI/ALM) 20, 5. Nairo Quintana (COL/MOV) 20, 6. Giovanni Visconti (ITA/BAH) 20, 7. Maximilian Schachmann (GER/QST) 20, 8. Egan Bernal (COL/SKY) 20, 9. Matej Mohoric (SLO/BAH) 20, 10. Bob Jungels (LUX/QST) 20
1. Thomas De Gendt (BEL/Lotto Soudal) 12hr 34min 54sec, 2. Alejandro Valverde (SPA/Movistar) at 23sec, 3. Jay McCarthy (AUS/Bora-Hansgrohe) 27, 4. Daryl Impey (RSA/Mitchelton-Scott) 29, 5. Simon Yates (GBR/Mitchelton-Scott) same time