Yearly, the Sanctuary of Arrate arrival is included in the Tour of the Basque Country since 2010, but it’s exceptional that it features on the last day action. In theory, it should provide for a mesmerizing finale, especially with such a tough route leading up to the last climb.
The race sets off in Eibar, which lies at the foot of the climb to Arrate – yet, the route climbs the other way once the flag is dropped. The Trabakua is a 3.2 kilometres slope with an average gradient of 5.2%. This sets the tone. In the first 40 kilometres the route descents and climbs from one top to the other. Gontzagaraigana (3.6 kilometres at 5.5%), Bizkaiko Begiratokia (4.7 kilometres at 4.8%) and Muniketa Gane (4 kilometres at 6.4%) follow in rapid succession before it’s time for a breather when the route moves through the valley for 15 kilometres.
Then the Eigeta appears, a 4 kilometres climb at 6.8%. It’s a climb in between two less accidented phases in the race. Following the descent the route continues on rolling roads back to departure place Eibar. With 38 kilometres remaining the riders are now going to race the same round that concluded last year’s Arrate stage.
Firstly, the route climbs up the Izua, a demanding 4.7 kilometres ascent at 8.8%. Following a descent of almost 9 kilometres the riders tackle the Urkaregi. Not the toughest climb in the Basque Country, yet it’s been a hard day in the saddle and this is the penultimate toil – 5.9 kilometres and averaging 4%. A flying descent leads to Eibar and via the Matsaria Kalea the riders enter the closing climb.
The Usartza is a 3.1 kilometres climb at 12.7%. At the top the route continues for 2 more kilometres on gently rolling terrain to the finish line. The dying metres are downhill so expect the finish to be at breakneck speeds.
Last year, Alejandro Valverde bested Rigoberto Uran and Romain Bardet in a sprint to the line in Arrate. The Spaniard thus stepped in the shoes of Samuel Sánchez (2010, 2011), Joaquim Rodríguez (2012, 2015), Nairo Quintana (2013), Wout Poels (2014), and Diego Rosa (2016, after a long solo).
The first three riders on the line take time bonuses of 10, 6 and 4 seconds, while the intermediate sprints (after kilometre 83.8 and after kilometre 98.4) come with 3, 2 and 1 seconds.
Tour of the Basque Country 2018 stage 6: Route maps, height profiles, and more
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Eibar and Arrate at Google maps
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