One of the attractions of this 76th edition of the Tour of Spain (2.WT, 14/08-5/09), the Altu d’El Gamoniteiru (14.6 km at 9.8%) waited for the riders this Thursday, on the occasion of the eighteenth stage. The final climb was preceded by three other climbs and promised again changes in the general classification, with Odd Christian Eiking and Louis Meintjes occupying 11th and 12th position before the start in Salas.
Estonian rider Rein Taaramäe, stage winner on the Picon Blanco and red jersey wearer, joined a group of thirty riders which managed to escape on the first climb of the day, but the break only managed to gain an a maximal advantage of 5 minutes. The Puerto San Lorenzo and the Alto de la Cobertoria, the first two climbs of the stage, skimmed the number of riders in the race lead. Behind Storer, Taaramäe was third on top of the Alto de la Cobertoria.
The pace of the peloton in the valley was higher than the speed of the breakaway, so Taaramäe was reunited with Eiking, Meintjes, Simone Petilli and Jan Hirt on the foot of the Alto del Cordal, the penultimate climb.
Determined to integrate the top 10 of the general classification, South African Louis Meintjes could rely on an impressive job of his teammate Hirt, who lead the red jersey group on the final climb. In this way, he took the responsibility of the chase behind De la Cruz and caused an explosion of the group of favorites. Meintjes followed the best climbers of the Tour of Spain in the fog to finish 8th on top of the Altu d’El Gamoniteiru, and moves into the top 10 of the provisional classification thanks to his performance. Also Eiking showed fighting spirit and finished 21st with the support of Petilli.