Sepp Kuss took the stage victory out of a huge breakaway group while his team-mates Primoz Roglic and Jonas Vingegaard put more than 30 seconds into Remco Evenepoel, who had said he wanted to hand over the responsibility of red but perhaps not like this.
In a frantic start to the 183.5km stage from La Vall d’Uixo, Evenepoel’s Soudal-Quickstep team let a quality group of 40 riders go up the road, including the likes of Kuss, Martinez, Marc Soler, Mikel Landa and Wout Poels, and saw them open up a lead of six minutes.
On the steep ramps of the final climb, Kuss went solo with two and a half kilometres remaining as the American, who worked tirelessly for Roglic at the Giro d’Italia and Vingegaard at the Tour de France, took his personal reward.
However young French hope Martinez, just 20 years old, finished 26 seconds down in second to take red by eight seconds for Groupama-FDJ.
Further down the mountain, Roglic was the first to launch an attack from the group of main favourites and, once it became clear Evenepoel could not respond, Vingegaard cruised up to join him, building a 32-second advantage over the Belgian.
Evenepoel still remains ahead of the pair in the overall standings, but his advantage over Vingegaard is down to five seconds, with Roglic another six seconds back.
Geraint Thomas tried to stick with Evenepoel but lost the wheel towards the finale, and now sits down in 23rd place, his deficit to the other main favourites growing to around two minutes.
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