Volta a Catalunya 2015 Route stage 4: Tona - La Molina
Thursday, March 26, 2015 - Stage 4 of the Volta a Catalunya takes the riders into the high mountains. En route the Colle de la Creueta is crested, the only HC-climb in the 2015 edition and the stage offers three category 1-climbs also. In 188.4 kilometres the race leads from Tona to La Molina, a ski-resort in the Pyrenees. Top finish!
Tona is set on the plateau of Vic. In the Eocene epoch – lasting from 56 to 33.9 million years ago – the plateau was at the bottom of a sea. The last time the Volta a Catalunya visited Tona dates back to 1993 for a stage heading to Pla de Beret. Antonio Martín was the victor. He was a promising Spanish rider, that same year he won the young rider classification in the Tour de France. His talent never came to full fruition after an unfortunate road accident in training on February 11th, 1994. Martin was 23 years when he died.
After leaving Tona the riders enjoy ample opportunity for a warm-up on a peacefully undulating route. After 47 kilometres the asphalt starts to fall in love with the sky and will do so for the next 10.5 kilometres. The Alto de Bracons offers an average gradient of 4.9% and the steepest section is 12%.
After a quick descent the landscape rolls on as before, until the Alt de Coublet demands attention. The peak is crested after around 90 kilometres of racing. The climb is exactly 10 kilometres, while the average gradient is 5.5% with a steepest kilometre at 10%.
The drop is interrupted by some negligible hurdles and then the riders at the foot of the only hors category climb in the Volta a Catalunya. Awe is appropriate, if only for the sheer length. In 21 kilometres the riders climb to an elevation of 1,916 metres. At 9%, kilometre 18 is steepest while the final kilometre is not the neglected either – 8.3%. The average gradient of the Creueta is 4.5%, a number accounted for mainly in the moderate 5-7 kilometres section even featuring a drop.
After cresting the Creueta and a short and steep descent the riders are almost in La Molina, but instead of heading straight toward on their goal they are forced to make a flanking movement. First a short climb and then a long descent on the N-260 towards Puigcerdà, a border town with France. Never getting there, with a sharp left turn the riders attack the final climb – 5.6 kilometres at 5.8% and a steepest section at 9%.
Joaquim Rodriguez has fond memories of La Molina as last year he won the stage to the ski-resort with a 4 seconds lead over Contador, thus cementing his overall win in 2014. In Barcelona Contador was 5 seconds down on Purito.
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Volta a Catalunya 2015 stage 4: Route/profile and more
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