The first 90 kilometres are the calm before the storm. The riders pedle in southeasterly direction towards the Sierra Nevada. They enter the mountain range with the highest summit – Mulhacén, at 3478.6 metres – of the Iberian peninsula shortly after moving through Granada.
The first climb begins in Monachil. It’s the Alto del Purche, a 9.1 kilometres test with an average gradient of 7.5%, while the first 3 kilometres are especially hard. Also, the last 200 metres go up at 11%.
After the Purche climb the riders could turn right to head straight for Sierra Nevada, but they don’t. A downhill takes them to Pinos Genil to re-start the ascent on the opposite side of a Bianchi-green reservoir.
The gradients are doable at first, but this changes after Güéjar Sierra. The riders enter the Alto de Hazallanas, which is a 7.3 kilometres climb with an average gradient of 9.8%. The route does not descend at the top but continues to ascend into Sierra Nevada, a ski resort at 2,510 metres above sea level. That last part – also called Alto Hoya de la Mora – rises 817 metres in the course of 12 kilometres, thus averaging 6.8%. From Güéjar Sierra all the way to the the line is a 19.5 kilometres toil at 7.9%.
In 2017, La Vuelta did turn right after the Alto del Purche and climbed the ‘motorway’ to Sierra Nevada. Miguel Ángel López took the spoils that day.
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Vuelta a España 2022 stage 15: route, profile, more
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