Today’s 177.5-kilometer stage from Colmenar Viejo to Becerril de la Sierra featured four category one climbs: the Puerto de Navacerrada, two ascents of the Puerto de la Morcuera and then Puerto de Cotos.
The difficulty of the race meant that there was a number of teams looking to get a riders in the the breakaway and as a result, there was an intense battle in the opening kilometers which saw Will Barta form part of an early three-rider group that was able to open up a narrow advantage.
However, it wasn’t until the race reached the slopes of the second climb that 13 riders finally went clear with Koch, motivated and still in strong form after yesterday’s solid performance, making it into the group that was sitting more than five ahead at the 100-kilometer to go mark.
Approaching the third climb, the breakaway was still holding onto a solid advantage and it was here that Koch pushed off the front alongside one other rider, extending a 40-second advantage before being pulled back by a counter-attack with 60 kilometers to go.
The German, who continues to impress in Spain, was able to keep riding a strong rhythm, joining forces with the red jersey group before eventually losing contact on the final climb and racing to a commendable top thirty place on a day pegged for the pure climbers in the race.
Quotes From the Finish Line
“I, of course, want to use every chance that I get. Yesterday was pretty hard, spending 220 kilometers at the front, and today was also difficult so we will see how the legs spin tomorrow. I feeling positive though after my performance on a stage that was not really suited for me. Our goal was to put someone in the breakaway at it was really tough at the beginning. On the first climb, the breakaway had still not gone and then on the flatter part between the two first climb, I took my chance to try something and I made it into the breakaway. I did my best at the end. For sure, it would have been nice to come closer to the front at the finish line but that’s cycling and when the big climbers were there before the last climb, I knew I didn’t have a chance unfortunately.”
Vuelta a España
Stage 18: Colmenar Viejo > Becerril de la Sierra (177.5km)
Top 3: 1. Sergio Higuita (EF Education First) 2. Primož Roglič (Team Jumbo – Visma) 3. Alejandro Valverde (Movistar Team)
CCC Team Top 3: 27. Jonas Koch 97. Francisco Ventoso 104. Nathan Van Hooydonck