Located at the foot of the Cancarix volcanic peak, Hellín will receive the Vuelta peloton in the eighth stage. This natural monument is a “volcanic chimney”, a fusion between a volcano and a mountain, in a flat, wild environment. So flat, that the only other time the Vuelta visited Hellín, the Italian Alessandro Pettachi won by sprinting.
1 Vuelta stage has departed from Hellín
The hissing of the python of cancarix
Hellín/Xorret de Catí. Costa Blanca Interior
Between the Iberian Mountain Range and the Baetic system are a series of reliefs over calcareous rocks from the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods (200-65 million years ago, shown in blue and green tones in the 3D diagram). The route also passes over more recent materials (yellow and grey) in the coastal area and at the bottom of the valleys.
Near Hellín (Albacete), is the Pitón (or Python) de Cancarix, a volcanic vent that formed around 7 million years ago (Upper Miocene). It consists of an enormous column of lava that cooled down before reaching the surface and was exposed when the rest of the volcano eroded away. Today, it is a mount in the shape of a table, whose walls are made up of spectacular cooling columns and are formed by very rare rocks (“ultrapotassic lamproites”). All of this led to the government of Castilla-La Mancha cataloguing the Python as a Natural Geological Monument in 1998.
In the area of Yecla (Murcia), the route crosses a multitude of elevations formed by folded rocky strata. Between these peaks and slopes are watercourses that show the difference between the majority of city historical centres (always on slightly raised areas that are safe from floods) and the invasion of the watercourse in modern times that, very often, led to disaster. The Agua Salada de Yecla watercourse has caused up to thirty-nine floods, all documented between 1727 and 1997.
From Yecla, the peloton heads to Villena, a city of castles and walls. This Alicante town features huge underground mysteries: two galleries (Mina Rosario and Mina Fisura), formed by large, very deep wells that were used, in ancient times, to supply water to the inhabitants and for agricultural irrigation purposes. Unfortunately, access to both is currently restricted to the public.
Throughout the stage, we cross the Maigmó Mountain Range, formed by the Alpine Orogeny (40-20 million years ago) like all those we have crossed in previous stages. The strata are so intensely folded that the route cuts through the same formations over and over again, in a region where erosion is conditioned by the inclination (what geologists refer to as a dip), providing a very wide variety of landscapes. Mountain ranges such as Aitana or Mariola stand out due to their large ravines, as is the case of the White Ravine, located in the last part of the stage, and one of the most attractive as the erosion of its slopes has formed an extensive network of gullies that results in unparalleled landscapes.
Stage Term: Volcanic Python
A volcanic python is a volcanic vent, with a cylindrical morphology, where lava has solidified inside it and has later been exposed due to the erosion of the volcanic cone.
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