The first 100 kilometres are played out on rolling roads. After this relatively flat opening the route starts to become more hilly. Three back-to-back ascents run to a maximum altitude of 655 metres before the closing climb up Alto de Santo Toribio de Liébana kicks in.
The Collada de Carmona is the first proper climb, crested with 109.5 kilometres done. It’s a 4.8 kilometres ascent at 7.3% with a steepest section of 10% halfway up the slopes.
Following the descent the Collada de Ozalba brings 6 kilometres at 6.5% to the table. Steep ramps? Not really. It’s a very regular climb that flattens out before the top.
Collada de la Hoz is the next challenge. At 6.7 kilometres this is the longest climb of the day, although it’s not the steepest with an average gradient of 5.8%. Yet don’t underestimate the Collada de la Hoz. In the 2012 Vuelta Contador attacked at the these very slopes and outgunned his rivals Alejandro Valverde, Joaquim Rodríguez and Chris Froome, thus laying the groundwork for his eventual overall win that edition. The Collada de la Hoz is crested with almost 30 kilometres remaining.
Following the descent of the Collada de la Hoz a prolonged false flat runs to the foot of the punchy last climb. The Santo Toribio de Liébana is a unprecedented ascent in Vuelta. The line is near a monastery where, rumour has it, the monks treasure a piece of wood of Jesus’ cross. The finale is a 2.2 kilometres slope at 9.3%.
The first three riders on the line take time bonuses of 10, 6 and 4 seconds, while the intermediate sprint (at kilometre 132.7) comes with 3, 2 and 1 seconds.
Read also: results/race report 18th stage 2017 Vuelta.
Vuelta 2017 stage 18: Route maps, height profiles, and more
Click on the images to zoom
Scheduled times 18th stage
Route and profile final 64 km
Suances and Santo Toribio de Liébana at Google Maps
Streetview Santo Toribio de Liébana