Fernando Escartín commentary
Mid-mountain. Consolidated differences in the general classification will favour a breakaway. The ascent of the Puerto del León (a 1st category climb) and the Puerto del Torcal (2nd category - 17 km from the finish-line -), will wear the riders down. There shouldn't be any surprises, despite a total of 2,300 metres of slopes in this stage.
Is there any relation between nerja cave and the torcal de antequera?
The stage begins in the Westernmost edge of the Alpujarras Mountain Range, follows the coast along Málaga and climbs towards Antequera. The coast is ragged with numerous rivers and watercourses that, at their mouth, leave small deltas, as is the case with the Guadalfeo River (Motril), Chíllar River (Nerja) and the Vélez River (Torre del Mar). The route goes through metamorphic rocks from the Paleozoic Period (570-245 million years ago) on the Southern slope of the Almijara Mountain Range (shown in pink and mauve tones in the diagram) and the Málaga Mountains (in dark green). Following the arrival in Málaga, the route abandons the coast and crosses the mountains of Málaga until reaching Casabermeja. From here until the Campanillas River, the route passes through the limit between the Paleozoic rocks and the Cenozoic rocks (65-0 million years ago, in yellow and grey). The stage comes to an end in the Torcal Mountain Range, formed by Mesozoic limestone rocks and dolomites (245-65 million years ago, in green and blue in the diagram), which provide one of the peninsula's most unique landscapes.
The stage has two very different sections: it begins following the coastline and then heads inland towards the Antequera Mountain Range. The initial coastal landscapes are very rugged, and the final ones feature a limestone mountain range with very spectacular reliefs.
The Peñón de Salobreña is an example of these coastal reliefs, a highlight on the beach of the same name. It is made out of marble, which is tough enough to resist erosion. Another example is the Maro-Cerro Gordo cliffs, an alternation of cliffs and coves that constitute the coastline in this particular location. Again, these cliffs would have developed on the same marble as the Peñón de Salobreña, but its alternation with softer schists has allowed coves to form in between.
Later on in the route we find the first example of a karst formation. It is the Nerja Cave, found in the municipality of Maro. This is a World Heritage Site and is found on dolomite marble with abundant speleothems that give the cave a spectacular appearance, complemented by the remains of Paleolithic industry.
A little further on, the peloton would pass over the Vélez River, whose main characteristic is the development of a delta in its mouth, shaped like a duck foot, with its front parallel to the coastline.
Lastly, at the end of the stage we will have a beautiful image of the Torcal de Antequera. It is a peculiar karst landscape whose structures give it a somewhat crazed appearance. The limestone strata are very thin and horizontal and do not actually form cave complexes. Instead, the erosion is aerial, resulting in shapes that are reminiscent of a city in ruins. For these reasons, it is part of the Iberian Peninsula's most important geological heritage.
Stage Term: Speleothem
Mainly underground karst formations produced by the combined effect of dissolution and recrystallization of carbonates: stalactites, stalagmites, columns, etc.
Jersey wearers after the stage 4
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