Fernando Escartín commentary
Mid-mountain. The longest stage of La Vuelta (205,2 kilometres), with a “leg-breaker” route all the way up to Cuenca. The climb up to the castle, with its characteristic stone pavement, will break up the peloton in order to make the most of the road's smooth sections. The peloton will arrive all spread out and the finale promises to be an exciting one.
This stage takes place in the Southern edge of the Iberian Mountain Range, crossing the mountain ranges of Cuenca, Montes Universales and Javalambre. The stage's geological complexity is high, cutting across all the fold and fault structures in the North-West South-East direction of the mountain range, which explains the mottled 3D diagram.
Leaving Llíria and heading inland, quickly ascending the central plateau and in the direction of Cuenca, water will be the protagonist, from its most violent facets (watercourses formed by torrential waters) to its calmest (spas built on springs). The interaction of water and rocks will result in spectacular landscapes, such as molars, enchanted cities and river canyons over which Cuenca's Hanging Houses are found.
As soon as we leave Llíria and head to Casinos, we will cross numerous watercourses (such as the Castellana or the Artaix). These are canyons, normally dry, through which torrential waters sporadically flow. This is a very common phenomenon in Spain's East, where summer storms and autumn rainfall provoke river floods and release intense water and sediments. Their erosive capacity is enormous, as they drag everything in their path.
Shortly after, and just before facing the stage's first big climb, the peloton will pass near Chulilla, on the border of the Chera-Sot Geological Park. Inside it is the Calderones, a formation of great beauty created by the erosion of the Turia River on limestone rocks from the Jurassic and Cretaceous Periods (200-65 million years ago, blue and green in the diagram). The effect of the river on the rocks has led to the creation of deep gorges, also known as “hoces” (or canyons), full of waterfalls such as the one at Chulilla, and ideal for practicing nature sports.
As the stage advances, the route goes through the Serranía de Cuenca Natural Park, featuring a large variety of reliefs, formed by the water's eroding effects on the rocks. One of the route's most interesting spots is Corveteros, near Boniches. These peculiar reliefs have formed due to the erosion of red sandstone from 250 million years ago (Triassic Period), making the most of the stratification plans and fractures.
Nearing the city of Cuenca, we find several karst reliefs formed by the dissolution of limestone, dolomites and plasters. These “enchanted cities”, limestone pavements or underground passages include such highlights as the Torcas de Palancares and the Cañada del Hoyo Lagoons. They consist of sinkholes or depressions formed by dissolution that are always interesting, especially when they are filled with water and acquire a high ecological value.
Upon arrival, Cuenca appears on Cretaceous limestone rocks that formed in the depths of the sea 90 million years ago and were raised to their current position during the Alpine Orogeny (40-20 million years ago). The city's landscape is the result of the action of the Huécar and Júcar rivers that eroded the rock and carved the canyons over which the famous Hanging Houses were built.
Stage Term: Stratification Plan
A stratification plan is the surface that separates two strata. A stratum is what we call each layer that a sedimentary rock is divided into, such as limestone rocks, sandstone rocks and conglomerate rocks. Each of the strata is formed by a continuous, homogenous sedimentation episode that, if interrupted, will create a flat horizontal surface that separates one stratum from another.
Jersey wearers after the stage 4
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