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The penultimate day in the Vuelta a España is also the last mountain stage, and the race organizers have planned a big one. Starting for the first time in Moralzarzal, a historic city which had a significant role under Muslim rule, and finishing for the sixth time at the Puerto de Navacerrada, the stage will be the big showdown of the 2022 event.
The day’s five climbs include two ascents of the category 1 Puerto de Navacerrada, albeit from different directions. The first approach averages 6.8 percent over 10.3 km and begins very soon after the drop of the flag. It crests the prime line after 34 km, with a descent and then a long plateau at over 1000 meters elevation being followed by the second category Puerto de Navafria (km 92.8) and Puerto de Canencia (km 126.8) climbs.
The final 46 kilometers are the hardest of all, with the jaded riders tackling first the category one Puerto de la Morcuera (km 143.7), a 9.4 km climb with an average slope of 6.9 percent and cresting at just under 10 percent in gradient, and then the final mountain of the race.
The Puerto de Cotos brings the riders to the Puerto de Navacerrada via a different approach. It is another category one climb and like the Morcuera, is has an average steepness of 6.9 percent. A section of 10 percent comes close to the summit and may well see an all-out attack by anyone within touching distance of the red jersey. However a 6.7 km false flat after the summit will require any riders who are clear to fend off chases behind, making for a dramatic finale to the Vuelta’s climbing action.