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Vuelta a Espana

Brutal queen stage rumored for 2012 Vuelta a España

The climb will be up the Cuitu Negro, with a section of new road at 2.8km with ramps as steep as 25 percent. The finale will come as part of a "queen stage" in stage 16 that will also include the brutally steep climbs over the San Lorenzo and Cobertoria summits, AS reported.

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The official announcement of the 2012 Vuelta a España won’t be made until January 11, but there are some interesting leaks hitting the Spanish media.

The latest comes from the sports daily AS, which reports Tuesday that a ski area in the Asturias region of northern Spain will play host to a new mountain summit that’s already being compared to the Bola del Mundo, the brutally steep finale in the mountains near Madrid that saw an electric showdown in the closing days of the 2010 Vuelta.

According to the report, sections of a service road at the Valgrande-Pajares ski area in the Cantabrian mountains will be paved later this summer to create the new mountaintop finish.

The climb will be up the Cuitu Negro, with a section of new road at 2.8km with ramps as steep as 25 percent. The finale will come as part of a “queen stage” in stage 16 that will also include the brutally steep climbs over the San Lorenzo and Cobertoria summits, AS reported.

The paper reported that it would be part of a three-mountain-run across Asturias that will also include stages up Ancares and Lagos de Covadonga.

Valgrande-Pajares has hosted five Vuelta stages over the years, the last coming in 2005 when Roberto Heras and his Liberty Seguros team raided the stage and knocked Denis Menchov out of the leader’s jersey for good.

Heras later tested positive for EPO and Menchov was awarded the 2005 Vuelta victory.

The Pajares climb is already one of the longest and steepest in northern Spain. With the planned additions up the ski area, the final climb will be 23.5km with an average grade of 6.8 percent.

The 2012 Vuelta will be officially unveiled on January 11 in a ceremony in Pamplona, which will host the start of the race on August 18. The Vuelta will conclude September 9 in Madrid.

VeloNews Coverage of 2011 Vuelta a España