A new arrival at high altitude in this edition of La Vuelta, the second (after Andorra) of the six scheduled for this edition. This is the Collado de la Cruz de Caravaca, a climb that may be misleading given its category (2nd), as highlighted by Alejandro Valverde during the reconnaissance he made with AS just over a month ago. The finish is 8.2 km long and has a 5.5% incline, but it’s exactly downhill as the climb has a strange incline. However, there are ramps up to 20%. This is precisely what marks the rise… and it is expected that the rain will be the protagonist. The sky was clear on the way to Xorret de Catí, but this Sunday, on the 184.5 km route between Cartagena and the finish line, which is also a heliport. Locals know the main rise of the port as La Barquilla.
“It surprised me! I found it less challenging due to the average bumps, but that’s okay. That’s because of all the different breaks there are, but what an ascension is pretty much doesn’t deviate from 9, 10, 12, 13%… it’s a challenging ascent that does damage.” 42-year-old Valverde told AS after making promotion for the first time in his career. Although this port is on Murcian territory, it is almost an hour from its usual town, Las Lumbreras. “I think they will be able to move around 390-400 watts. “It’s an explosive haven for a climber who accepts changes in pace because there’s descents, ascents, descents… it’s breathtaking and very beautiful,” he said. El Bala, who sees a rise that goes well with Roglic, Vingegaard and Ayuso… and who also wanted “his” Enric Mas to be in the fight.
It won’t be the only climb of the day because after 60 kilometers they have to face the climb to Casas de la Marina Perdiz, first category and this will probably serve to finalize the selection of the fugue. This last climb, which comes after a left turn after crossing the town of Caravaca, the terrain (once you’ve passed the houses) is bare, allowing the wind to act on it as well. The road, paved at the end of July, will be ready for a little-known and heavily trafficked climb that will certainly be traveled after La Vuelta. Evenepoel, Roglic, Vingegaard, Mas and Ayuso reached Xorret de Catí in a span of 19 seconds… and from there they went again in 14 seconds. All very close and also an important day to determine the starting positions in the time trial on Tuesday.