Sir Bradley Wiggins moved to within 10 seconds of the Tour of Catalonia race lead after stage three's summit finish.
Team Sky rider Wiggins, last year's Tour de France winner, climbed to third in the overall standings after a late burst on the ascent to the Pyrenees ski resort of Vallter 2000.
He finished fourth at the end of the 180km ride from Vidreres, as Colombia's Nairo Quintana won the stage.
Spain's Alejandro Valverde moved into the race lead by finishing second.
Valverde, who rides for Movistar, is six seconds clear of fellow countryman Joaquim Rodriguez, his nearest challenger, who took third place.
Wednesday's result means that British rider Wiggins, 32, has risen five places in the overall race standings, having begun the day in eighth.
Thursday's fourth stage will remain in the Pyrenees for a gruelling 218km ride culminating with a climb up Port Aine Rialp.
Four stages remain, with the race concluding in Barcelona on Sunday.
Tour of Catalonia Stage three results:
1. Nairo Quintana (Colombia / Movistar) 5:01:20"
2. Alejandro Valverde (Spain / Movistar) +6"
3. Joaquim Rodriguez (Spain / Katusha) same time
4. Bradley Wiggins (Britain / Team Sky) same time
5. Thibaut Pinot (France / FDJ) +9"
6. Peter Stetina (U.S. / Garmin) same time
Tour of Catalonia overall classification:
1. Alejandro Valverde (Spain / Movistar) 12:45:22"
2. Joaquim Rodriguez (Spain / Katusha) +6"
3. Bradley Wiggins (Britain / Team Sky) +10"
4. Michele Scarponi (Italy / Lampre) +13"
5. Przemyslaw Niemiec (Poland / Lampre) same time
6. Nairo Quintana (Colombia / Movistar) +22"