Vuelta a España 2022 stage 12 preview – summit finish on Peñas Blancas

The final 19 kilometres climb will decide the winner of today's stage and could cause a GC shake-up

Vuelta a España 2022, stage 12
Distance: 192.7 kilometres
Start location: Salobreña
Finish location: Penas Blancas, Estepona
Start time: 11.25 BST
Finish time (approx): 16.30 BST

Stage 12 sees the Vuelta a España 2022 remain within the autonomous community of Andalucia, but it moves further westward into the region of Granada, beginning in the beautiful town of Salobreña. Most famous for its impressive Arab fortress – the Castillo de Salobreña – the picturesque old town, traditional Spanish cuisine, and many watersports are just some of the other alluring aspects of this lesser-known destination, which hosts a stage of La Vuelta for the first time.

The parcours are bumpy for the first 30km or so, before it flattens out for around 50km. The first 80km is almost entirely coastal, with views of the Mediterranean on the left of the peloton as they approach the popular tourist mecca of Malaga. From Malaga, the route continues to travel west inland, and there is a corresponding shift in parcours, as the terrain becomes distinctly rockier and the day’s climbing begins, albeit slowly at first.

Vuelta a España 2022 stage 12 map and profile

The route turns south-west at the town of Cártama, and with just over 80km remaining, the gradient becomes somewhat steeper. Although the climb up to the quaint town of Monda, on the outskirts of the Sierra de las Nieves national park, is not categorised, it will test the legs and offer a warm-up for the much more significant challenge of the day still to come.

The peloton will continue on directly due south after that until they reach the famous Costa del Sol resort of Marbella with its stunning beaches, which will be visible to the peloton as they join up with the coastal route once again with around 45km remaining. A flat section of around 25km concludes with an intermediate sprint in Estepona, before the riders turn north away from the coast and are
pitched immediately onto the huge category 1 climb the will conclude the stage.

The Peñas Blancas is considered one of the most iconic climbs of the region. 19km long, the mountain gains over 1200m in altitude and averages out at 6.7%. The first half of the climb is slightly tougher than the second, featuring sections of over 9% and pitches of up to 15%. The remaining part of the climb features steadier gradients, and although it is a long climb, it should not prove too overwhelming for such a strong group of riders.

The climb offers stunning views of both the coast and the mountains, but the views will be the last thing on the minds of the riders as they ascend. There’s a good chance this might be a day for the breakaway, but the GC teams will go to work as they hit the climb so it will depend on the gap as to whether an escapee is able to make good on their day’s efforts and take a stage win.

Vuelta a España 2022 stage 12 contenders and prediction

With more stringent challenges ahead, the GC contenders may look at one another rather than attack up the slopes of the Peñas Blancas, but given its length, the climb still could cause some big gaps between the main contenders. If the stage winner comes from the GC favourites, we can expect to see red jersey wearer Remco Evenepoel (Quick Step-Alpha Vinyl) at the forefront of the battle. Both Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) and Enric Mas (Movistar) will also be trying to get a stage win and gain time on GC, as will Ineos Grenadiers' young talent Carlos Rodriguez. Juan Ayuso of UAE Team Emirates would also love to get a stage win in front of a home crowd.

Out of those who could get in the breakaway and make it to the finish, two-time stage winner Jay Vine (Alpecin-Deceuninck) is a strong contender. Marc Soler of UAE Team Emirates could also contest the victory, as could Rein Taaramäe of Intermarché-Wanty-Gobert Matériaux.

Prediction: We are expecting Remco Evenepoel to take the win today. The red jersey holder will be confident after his dominant display in the individual time trial a few days before and will use today as an opportunity to gain more time on his rivals.