Stage 18: Burgos to Pena Cabarga, 186.5km, medium mountain
Considering what the guys have been through, especially in the Pyrenees, this stage must look almost easy. But that’s where it can get dangerous – one slip of concentration, someone gets too far up the road, and a podium place is put in jeopardy.
This stage looks fairly innocuous for the first 100km, then it starts to get a bit snaggle-toothed. The steep descent off the second cat 3 of the day starts the final half of the stage with a cat 3 and cat 2 in quick succession. After the Alta del Caracol, it’s a long, nearly 30km descent before the final short, sharp summit finish on Pena Cabarga (5.9km, 9.2%), with its ever-changing gradients up to a leg-trashing 20% in the final kilometre.
There’s scope for any GC contender to make up time on his rivals, although some will be wary of burning their matches too soon ahead of the next two days. It should make for a nervy finish as everyone watches everyone else like a hawk – and consequently may just favour a breakaway.
Bit of trivia: This was the climb where Chris Froome showed the world he was a real GC contender when he won this stage from Juan Jose Cobo in 2011.
Links: Official site
Header image: The summit of the Pena Carbarga