31/08 - Stage 9 - Carboneras de Guadazaón to Aramón Valdelinares - 185 km
The sprinters had their say in Albacete on stage 8. Now, it’s time for the GC riders to fight for the red jersey on the first real mountain stage of this year’s Vuelta a España.
Today’s stage is divided into two parts. Starting in Carboneras de Guadazaón, the first 100 km are relatively easy. A morning breakaway will be able to gain a solid gap on the peloton on this long stretch. Upon reaching the intermediate sprint in Teruel, the terrains gets hilly. Puerto de Cabigordo is the first categorized climb of the day. Due to several descents before the top, the 18 km are set to have an average gradient of just 3.8 %. In reality, the uphill sections are much steeper. A tail wind will accompany the peloton on this climb.
The second intermediate sprint is located in Cedrillas with just over 50 km to go. At this point, the riders will be battling a headwind, meaning the peloton most likely will be able to take back a lot of time on the breakaway. Another important change is the weather. After struggling with extreme temperatures in Andalucía, the weather is now completely different. Rain is expected and the temperatures will be half of what we saw just a few days ago. Some riders will be definitely having a hard time adjusting to these new circumstances.
With 25 km to go, it’s time for the penultimate climb of the day. Alto de San Rafael is 11.5 km long and has an average gradient of 4.2 %. However, due to a few kilometers of flat, once again, the actual uphill gradients are much steeper. There are even a few parts of double digits gradients on the last part towards the top.