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Beware of El Gamoniteiru!
Anyone who still has some gas in the tank after such a tough series of stages can envision having an outstanding day on this truly savage finale. Each of the two Cat. 1 climbs in the opening 90 kilometers are brutal: the Puerto de San Lorenzo is 10 kilometers at almost 9 percent and the Puerto de la Cobertoria is 8 kilometers at a similarly steep gradient. These are just a preamble to an intense final 30 kilometers. First comes the 12-kilometer Cat. 2 Alto de Cordal, which has a gentle uphill grade but then plunges 7 kilometers at a double-digit rate to the town of Pola de Lena at the base of El Gamoniteiru.
This mountain is named for Alberto Fernández, the local Cantabrian rider who died in a 1984 car crash at age 29, when he was at the height of his pro career. This monster Especial category climb is 15 kilometers long, averages 10 percent and has more than 20 pitches exceeding 13 percent! It starts on wide roads that have multiple kilometers with double-digit sections, followed by 2 kilometers of gentler slopes before ending with 6 ultra-steep kilometers on a very narrow mountain road to the 1,764-meter (5,787 feet) summit. Basque climber Landa may well take the honors, but keep an eye on Roglič, Carthy, and Bernal. But whatever you do on this September Thursday, don’t miss this peak’s spectacular Vuelta debut!