Wednesday September 6th, 2017

Stage 17Villadiego / Los Machucos. Monumento Vaca Pasiega

Start 12h40 (Local time)
  • Fernando Escartín commentary

    Mountain. Castille will bid farewell to the peloton with a simple start to the stage, followed by almost 3,000 metres of slopes. The spectacular descent from La Lunada, that will lead straight onto the Alisas mountain pass, and the final climb up the infernal Los Machucos slopes will really test the peloton's strength.


Changing reliefs and unique shapes

Tesla Mountain Range © Este archivo se encuentra bajo la licencia Creative Commons Genérica de Atribución/Compartir-Igual 3.0.From left to right, anticline, syncline and anticline. © Stanisław Raczyński / Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.Miera River Valley © This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International licenseOjo Guareña Cave © This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

Villadiego-Los Machucos

This stage's geology is characterised by Mesozoic materials (245 – 65 million years ago) including limestone rocks, dolomites and marls from the dry moorlands or “páramos” of Burgos, Las Merindades and the Cantabrian Mountains.

The first part of the stage begins in the Tertiary materials (65 - 2 million years ago) from the Duero Basin (shown in yellow tones in the diagram), passing quickly onto a relief characterised by plateaus and slopes that make up the Páramo de Villadiego, which our stage cuts through almost perpendicularly.

We cross the Páramo de Masa, characterised by shapes linked to the dissolution of limestone rocks, dolomites and marls that leave behind the most typical karst landscapes (green in the diagram), until we reach the town of Pesadas de Burgos. This is where the fold structures that lead to the Tesla Mountain Range begin. These mountains are a group of synclines and anticlines that bring to light, between the Cretaceous materials (145 - 65 million years ago), Jurassic materials (200 - 145 million years ago), both limestone (blue tones in the diagram). After these mountain ranges we find the depression of Villarcayo-Medina de Pomar, a syncline that is full of Tertiary materials from the Oligocene-Miocene Period (34 - 5 million years ago), cut by the Quaternary deposits of the Nela River (brown and salmon colours for the Tertiary and greys for the Quaternary).

After passing Bárcena de Pienza, we head North towards Espinosa de los Monteros. We enter through the Trueba River Valley, in the heart of the Cantabrian Mountains and the Collados del Ansón Natural Park, characterised for its carbonated materials from the Cretaceous Period, (145 - 65 million years ago) where the stage concludes.

The stage commences at Villadiego, where the landscapes formed by the Duero water network accompany us for several kilometres. The erosion of the surrounding lands has formed flat reliefs with some elevations, due to the erosion resistance of certain rocks. Throughout the entire stage, we can observe limestone rocks that present a more developed karst shape in the more elevated areas.

In Brullés, the change of materials indicates the transition between the Duero Basin and the last elevations of the Cantabrian Mountains. Folds and a peculiar inverted relief begin to appear, where the synclines are found on the raised areas and the anticlines are found in the valleys. Arriving at Valdenoceda, we come across the Ebro River that carves out a valley in the Tesla Mountain Range whose relief conforms to the structure (raised anticlines and synclines in the valleys).

Arriving at Espinosa de los Monteros, we begin our mountainous ascent and find the Ojo Guareña Natural Monument, one of Spain's largest caves featuring around 400 chambers and a surface area of 18 km². On the climb, we enter the glacial valley of Lunada, measuring 4 kilometres long, with its characteristic U-shape that reveals its glacial origins. Along the valley are glacial cirques and moraines, the sediments deposited by a glacier, where the Miera River is embedded. Both the valley and the surrounding mountain ranges present well-developed karst mouldings, of which the Alto del Tejuelo massif, found at the level of Ajanedo, stands out. This massif features numerous sinkholes, caves and limestone pavements.

The wedged Miera Valley opens in the localities of Liérganes and Solares. Its course goes on to the Cantabrian Sea, but we turn inland to climb towards Los Machucos, where we once again find more karst landscapes that are characteristic of carbonated rocks.

Stage Terms: Syncline and Anticline

A syncline is a fold that points downwards or is open on the top (concave).

An anticline is a fold that points upwards or is open on the bottom (convex).

Jersey wearers after the stage 4

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