The 18th stage of La Vuelta ventures into the mountains of the Sierra de Guadarrama and Cuenca Alta del Manzanares. In fact, the route takes in several loops in a condensed area just north of Madrid. Following 20 kilometres on the flat, the uphill-party starts at the foot of the Puerto Navacerrada. The 11.8 kilometres ascent at 6.3% runs to the peak at 1,860 metres. After a few kilometres at that altitude the route plunges down to the foot of Puerto de la Morcuera.
The Morcuera is tackled twice, the first time on the easier northern side: 13.2 kilometres at 5% and very steady. On descent the riders move through Miraflores de la Sierra, only to return to the village some 23 kilometres later after a local lap. They go back up the same roads that they just descended. Again, the Morcuera is a very steady climb, although somewhat steeper on this side: 10.4 kilometres at 6.7%.
The route continues to the Puerto de Cotos. At 13.9 kilometres, the climb is marked by an average gradient of 4.8%. The first four kilometres go up at 2 to 3% and the rest of the slope is hovering around 6%. In fact, the Cotos is familiar terrain, as it is the descent of the Navacerrada, which was the first ascent of the day. Just like before, the route stays at altitude for a while before descending on the side that the riders climbed before.
Instead of returning all the way to Colmenar Viejo, the route turns right for a false flat run-in of 4 kilometres into Becerril de la Sierra.
The first three riders on the line gain time bonuses of 10, 6 and 4 seconds, while the intermediate sprint (at the foot of the Cotos) comes with 3, 2 and 1 seconds.
Another interesting read: results/race report 18th stage 2019 Vuelta a España.
Vuelta a España 2019 stage 18: route, profiles, more
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