Following a rolling section of 35 kilometres the riders arrive at the base of the Puerto del Pico, a 15.3 kilometres climb at 5.5%. A short descent before the route continues uphill on the Alto Gredos, a slope of 10.1 kilometres at 3.7%. A rolling section leads to the base of the Puerto de Peña Negra, which is a 13 kilometres climb at 4.5%.
Almost halfway, time for a breather. The riders fly down the mountain for 15 kilometres and ride the plains south of Salamanca for tens of kilometres. So hardly any obstacles until the riders hit the last climb, up to La Covatilla.
Actually, the final climb comprises of two distinct parts. With 24 kilometres remaining the riders tackle the first uphill. This 9 kilometres section slopes at an average of 3%, which is perfect to stretch the legs – yet, the climb is very irregular, fluctuating between (false) flats and sections of 8%.
Following a short descent the actual last climb appears. The uphill to La Covatilla amounts to 12.5 kilometres with an average gradient of 6.5%, although that statistic is biased. The first 4.7 kilometres go up at 4%, while the rest of the climb is averaging 8.5% with a lot of double digit stretches. The riders tackle the last 10% ramp with the flamme rouge flying over their head before the climb flattens out. The last 900 metres rise at around 4%.
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).
La Covatilla is located 220 kilometres west of Madrid.
The first three riders on the line take time bonuses of 10, 6 and 4 seconds, while the intermediate sprint (at kilometre 149) comes with 3, 2 and 1 seconds.
Vuelta a España 2018 stage 9: Route map, height profile, and more
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Details Puerto del Pico
Details Alto de la Covatilla
Profile final kilometres
Route final kilometres