Following a rolling section of some 40 kilometres the riders arrive at the base of the Puerto del Pico, a 15.4 kilometres climb at 5.5% that’s crested at kilometre 49. A short descent before the route climbs further uphill, although gently. A rolling section, and lead to the base of the Puerto de Peña Negra. Atop the 11.7 kilometres climb at 4.7% the 9th stage is down to 100 kilometres.
Time for a breather. Hardly any obstacles until the riders hit the last climb, up to La Covatilla.
The final climb is made up of two parts. Firstly a 9.3 kilometres climb at 3%, which is perfect to stretch the legs. The slopes are very irregular, fluctuating between (false) flats and sections at 8%.
Following a short descent the actual last climb appears. The uphill to La Covatilla amounts to 11.7 kilometres with an average gradient of 6.8%, although that statistic is biased. The first 4.3 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 500 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.
Vuelta a España 2018 stage 9: Route map, height profile, and more
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