The finish in La Molina features in the Volta a Catalunya since 2014. Joaquim Rodriguez (2014), Tejay van Garderen (2015), Dan Martin (2016) and Alejandro Valverde (2017) – they all won a stage in the ski resort. The 9 kilometres closing climb is averaging 6% and the steepest slopes are 9%, so it’s pretty regular. Last year, the La Molina climb was included twice, which resulted in an uneventful finale with all GC guys climbing together to the line. In the dying metres Dan Martin opened up the sprint and Valverde won the race with an ultimate jump. The other overall contenders finished 3 seconds down on them.
Obviously, the organisation doesn’t want the same scenario for 2018, and maybe that’s the reason to include a monster climb before the final ascent. Coll de la Creueta is a sheer endless climb and it peaks at almost 2,000 metres, so let’s hope snow and cold will not hinder the race. The high mountains easily turn into a grim and unwelcoming place this early in the season.
The race sets off in Llanar and the first 50 kilometres runs on the flat before the route takes in the first climb. Nothing special, just to stretch the legs. And on we go to Alt de Jou, a 5 kilometres climb at 6%. Basically this is still the calm before the storm.
Back in the valley the inclination begins gradually and it will continue for 30 kilometres. But what starts out as a false flat is getting slightly steeper along the way. Still, the sheer distance of the Coll de la Creueta will be doing the damage here, not the steepness of its slopes. The Creueta amounts to 21 kilometres and is averaging 4.5%. Kilometre 18 is the toughest section, rising at 9%, although the last kilometre is not easy either with its 8.3% gradient.
On descent the riders move through La Molina for the first time. They turn right to continue descending to Alp before the final haul up to La Molina begins. As said, the regular climb is 9 kilometres long and averaging 6%. Following the last passage in La Molina the route continues with a short drop and a 2 kilometres climb to the line.
The first three riders on the line take time bonuses of 10, 6 and 4 seconds, while intermediate sprint (at kilometre 21.2 and at kilometre 50.8) comes with 3, 2 and 1 seconds.
Volta a Catalunya 2018 stage 4: Route maps, height profiles, and more
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