LA MOLINA, Spain — Alejandro Valverde won the third stage of the Tour of Catalonia but lost the overall lead to American rider Tejay van Garderen after the Spaniard’s Movistar team was penalized on Wednesday.
Valverde beat Daniel Martin of Ireland in the final meters of the 188-kilometers (116-mile) stage from Mataro to La Molina, but fell to fourth in the overall standings because of a team sanction handed out earlier in the day.
Valverde and the rest of the Movistar riders were penalized one minute because some of them pushed each other in Tuesday’s team time trial in Banyoles. Judges initially penalized only three riders, including stage winner Jose Joaquin Rojas, but eventually decided to extend the punishment to the rest of the team.
Van Garderen, who had loudly complained about Movistar on Tuesday, finished eighth on Wednesday and opened up a lead of 41 seconds over BMC Racing Team teammate Samuel Sanchez of Spain.
Valverde is 45 seconds off the lead.
“The team did great,” Valverde said. “All I had to do was sprint at the end.”
Tour de France winner Chris Froome was four seconds behind Valverde in the overall standings.
“I’m here to suffer this week, to gain from hard racing and soak it all up,” Froome said.
The week-long race in northeastern Spain concludes on Sunday in Barcelona.
Riders on Thursday face a stage of 194 kilometers (120 miles) from Llivia to Igualada.