Preview: What you need to know about stage 18 of the Vuelta a España

The hardest stage of the Vuelta and one that seems likely to be won by a GC contender.

by Dane Cash

Date: Thursday September 2
Start: Salas
Finish: Altu d’El Gamoniteiru
Distance: 162.6 km

Held in the mountainous north west of Spain, this is almost certainly the hardest stage of the Vuelta. There are two Cat 1s as an appetiser: the Puertu de San Llaurienzu (9.9 km at 8.6%) and the Altu de la Cobertoria (7.9 km at 8.6%). The Cat 2 Altu la Segá o del Cordal peaks 22 km from the finish line (12.2 km at 3.8%), and then it’s into a true monster: the Altu d’el Gamoniteiru. This stage-ending climb is 14.6 km long at an average of 9.8% with most of the climb rising at more than 10%.

This is a brutal finish to an incredibly tough day.

Who’s it for: Climbers. As for the stage battle, the break could be in the mix for the win, but the GC stakes at this point in the race and the extremely challenging final climb could give the overall contenders an edge.

Dane Cash’s picks: On the 9.8% gradient and finishing at over 1,700 meters, Miguel Ángel López looks like a great pick. So does Primož Roglič, of course. Egan Bernal, if he has anything left, Adam Yates, Jack Haig, and Enric Mas are others to watch from the GC group.

If it’s a break that takes the day, watch out for Romain Bardet and Damiano Caruso. This is truly a stage for the climbers, so riders who have finished on the podium of a Grand Tour will like their chances.

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