Vuelta 2019 Favourites stage 18: Attackers in the middle mountains
The penultimate mountain stage is not the hardest on this Vuelta - not by a long shot. The route includes four intermediate ascents before the race ends with a descent. Attackers are treated in Spain, and this could be another lucky shot for the breakaway. (Slideshow route/profile)
This may not be the hardest route, but that does not necessarily mean that no harm can be done. Four years ago, Tom Dumoulin lost La Vuelta on these very roads. Astana put pressure on the Dutchmen from the start until he was isolated and finally cracked. Their then leader Fabio Aru rode away from him on the penultimate climb to claim the red jersey. Meanwhile, Omar Fraile brought the breakaway home.
The ascents are the same and also appear in the same order: Puerto de Navacerrada (11.8 kilometres at 6.3%), Puerto de la Morcuera (13.9 kilometres at 5%), Puerto de la Morcuera from the other side (10.4 kilometres at 6.7%) and Puerto de Cotos (13.9 kilometres at 4.8%). The climbs are not difficult in itself, but the faster you race, the harder they get.
The stage concludes with a downhill of 16 kilometres before the last four kilometres are a false flat run-in to the line. Normally, one would say that this is an opportunity for the breakaway to succeed.
Favourites 18th stage 2019 Vuelta a España
** Thomas De Gendt, Jakob Fuglsang, Tao Geoghegan Hart
** Lawson Craddock, Ruben Guerreiro, James Knox, Gianluca Brambilla
* Primoz Roglic, Miguel Ángel López, Alejandro Valverde, Tadej Pogacar
Take a look at the route of the 18th stage of La Vuelta.
Vuelta a España 2019 stage 18: profiles and finale
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