Following a rolling section of some 40 kilometres the riders arrive at the base of the Puerto del Pico, an mountains that’s crested at kilometre 49. A short descent before the route continues further upwards. A rolling section, a drop, and halfway through the race the Puerto de Peña Negra is crested.
Time for a breather. Hardly any obstacles until the riders hit the last climb, up to La Covatilla.
La Covatilla is a ski resort at an altitude of 1,962 metres. The place hosted La Vuelta on four occasions. The last finish was in 2011, when Dan Martin outsprinted Bauke Mollema on the line. A group of 26 riders – with among them Chris Froome and Bradley Wiggins – arrived within 1 minute of the winner. With his victory Martin followed in the footsteps of Danilo di Luca (2006), Félix Cárdenas (2004) and Santi Blanco (2002).
The final climb may be long, the slopes are gentle – that is, mostly. With an average gradient of less than 4% the first 12 kilometres are really nothing to worry about. But then the tricky stretches pop up. The following 4 kilometres are averaging 10% and the penultimate kilometre goes up at 9.8% op. The full 19.7 kilometres climb is averaging 5.6%.
La Covatilla is located 220 kilometres west of Madrid.
Vuelta a España 2018 stage 9: Route map, height profile, and more
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