Final sprint for La Vuelta a España 2023: must-see stages, favorites and how to watch

Road 17/08/23 19:29 Migue A.

In full hangover after the Tour de France and the unusual World Championship, comes the turn of La Vuelta a España 2023, which will be held from August 26 to September 17 with a real luxury participation that promises to make us vibrate from the start in Barcelona. Can it surpass the intensity and excitement that we enjoyed in the Tour de France?

Clash of the titans in La Vuelta a España 2023

Last chance for cyclists who have failed to meet their objectives throughout the year, an option to round off a great season for others and a priority objective for some. La Vuelta a España 2023 is presented one more year, a priori, as an exciting race, this year if possible, more than ever, at least if we look at the last campaigns.

All this despite the fact that, at the beginning of the season, few were those who were betting on the relevance of La Vuelta due to the conditioning factor of the dates chosen for the new Mega World Championships and that many have practically put an end to their 2023 season after it.

A great participation that will also be seasoned by a route with the hardness very distributed throughout its three weeks in a varied route in which we will not know when the surprise will be able to jump.

La Vuelta a España 2023 route, the stages not to be missed

Unipublic remains faithful to its concept of how La Vuelta a España should be and continues to consolidate a proposal in which the hardness is distributed evenly throughout the three weeks of the race, with the addition of stages of contained mileage and high finishes.

La Vuelta a España 2023 will start in the streets of Barcelona with a team time trial of just over 14 kilometers that should not be of any relevance for the overall classification. However, already in the 3rd stage we will start to see movement with a day that ends in the Andorran resort of Pal-Arinsal after passing through the Coll d'Ordino and in which we could start to see some movement among the favorites, mainly because of the game that can give two chained climbs with only a few flat kilometers in between and the important hardness of some sections of the last pass.

Just three days later, a new uphill finish will arrive with the finish located in the ski resort of Javalambre, in a stage very similar to the one won by Ángel Madrazo in the 2019 edition. Terrain favorable for breakaways, without great difficulties but with a tremendously hard terrain and with hardly any rest. A day in which we may not see the favorites but that, for sure, will leave us cycling of many carats.

The first week will conclude with a mid-mountain stage with a finish in one of the classics of the province of Alicante, the short but tough Xorret de Catí. The race will travel to Murcia the following day for another high finish, this time in the town of Caravaca de la Cruz.

The second week will start strong after the rest day with the dispute of the only individual time trial with a semi-urban route through the streets of the city of Valladolid, which will undoubtedly play down the influence that the wind usually has in these parts. Even so, the long straights that punctuate the route, a practically flat profile make it a place where specialists can bring out their qualities. After what we experienced in the Tour, we promise not to comment on the 25.8 km of it, which, on paper, should not throw big differences although, with a beast like Remco Evenepoel in the race, who knows what can happen.

Without a break, the peloton will head to Soria to face a stage with a single stage with the ascent to the Laguna Negra de Urbión. A day in which, as the other time the race arrived here, it is unlikely that the differences will exceed a few seconds because of the little hardness offered by this climb. In fact, it is more likely that the next day between Ólvega and Zaragoza will be more decisive, especially due to the orientation of the route in the last 60 kilometers that leave the peloton at the mercy of the dreaded Cierzo if it decides to make an appearance.

We arrive at what will surely be the most decisive days of the race with the Pyrenees having a special role in this edition of La Vuelta 2023, starting with the stage that will lead the peloton from the ski resort of Formigal to the top of the Tourmalet, after passing through the Aubisque and Spandelles. A very hard day to which we can only complain about its very poor 134 km.

As hard or harder will be the next day's stage where the race will climb what they have called the Col Hourcére, which is none other than the one usually known as Col d'Issarbe, one of the slopes of the massif of the St. Martin's Stone. After it, instead of continuing to climb towards the Spanish border, the race will descend along the Col de Soudet road to head towards what is probably one of the hardest passes in the Pyrenees, the mythical Larrau, which even made Miguel Indurain himself give up.

The dessert of this stage will be the small mountain pass of Laza and a stage finish in the well-known, on this side, as the Belagua pass, which is none other than the famous piedra de San Martín, although on its Navarrese side it does not show the inhuman hardness of its 6 French slopes but which, without doubt, after the battle that may be presented in Larrau, could give more than one surprise.

And the second week will close with a leg-breaking stage on the road to Lekunberri which, after the hardness accumulated in the two previous days, should be a good opportunity for the stage-hunters to play their cards right.

The peloton will face the second rest day in Santander and from there, face the usual journey through the lands watered by the Cantabrian, starting with a day of coastal route and a new high finish of those so usual in La Vuelta, in this case, in the town of Bejes.

It will be the prelude to the arrival of the mythical Angliru, in another day of Junior race kilometers and that will offer us, prior to the final ascent, the passes through Colladiella and Cordal. Perhaps the organization of La Vuelta is playing the game by not wanting to make this stage too hard because the next day the cyclists will face another stage, this one of 179 km in which the fearsome Puerto de San Lorenzo will be climbed and the day will end with a double ascent to La Cruz de Linares, where the finish will be located in the second of the passes.

From here the lap should be totally sentenced although, as it is always said, although it rarely happens, there will be a last day in the Sierra de Guadarrama, this time, with a totally different proposal to the well-known passes. Instead, the organization has looked for a challenging route in the surroundings of San Lorenzo del Escorial with a circuit with a total of no less than 10 scoring ports. As a reference, we refer you to the Spanish Championship that was held on these same roads shortly before the Tour so that you can see the game that the day can give.

Favorites Vuelta a España 2023

Not even in his best dreams could Javier Guillén have imagined the tremendous line-up of cyclists that will be at the start in Barcelona on August 26th. A list of favorites that, obviously, has to be headed by the reigning winner of the race Remco Evenepoel. Remco could not shine in the road race of the World Championship, totally out of his comfort zone, but between his resounding victory in the Clasica de San Sebastian and the exhibition in the World Time Trial he made it clear that he comes to La Vuelta to get rid of the thorn in his side left by the Giro d'Italia.

In front of him will be a Primoz Rogliz who also has a thorn to remove. In this case the bad taste in his mouth left by his crash in last year's edition and deprived him to give the battle in the final days against Evenepoel. The Slovenian arrives with his homework done after his victory in the Giro d'Italia and with a new opportunity to be the first rider to win La Vuelta four times. His good performance in the Vuelta a Burgos makes it clear that he has prepared the assault on the red jersey thoroughly.

What we don't know is what will be the role of the reigning Tour de France winner Jonas Vingegaard, who a few weeks ago confirmed his presence in the Spanish round. In principle the lead should go to Roglic but one should never underestimate the ambition of a Tour winner. In any case, the possible line-up of Jumbo-Visma is scary even before the start of the race.

The third in discord would have to be the great hope of the Spanish fans, orphan of triumphs in grand tours for too long. Juan Ayuso, the young pearl of UAE Team Emirates, with the permission of Tadej, has prepared La Vuelta a España 2023 as the number one goal of the year and, despite a hesitant start to the season with that injury in the Achilles tendon that did not quite go away, the truth is that he has already demonstrated, with his exhibition in the queen stage of the Tour of Switzerland, that it is time to try an assault on the red jersey, backed by the third step of the podium he achieved in the last edition. Besides, the Emirati team will also line up, as a luxury lieutenant in addition to plan B, a Joao Almeida who is becoming more and more solvent in these races.

It remains to be seen how Enric Mas' recovery will have gone after the scapula fracture suffered in the first stage of the Tour de France. Richard Carapaz, who also had to abandon the Tour in the same crash as the Mallorcan, in his case suffering more serious consequences in the form of a broken kneecap, seems to be practically ruled out according to the latest information.

How to watch La Vuelta a España 2023

As usual in the grand tours, Eurosport will dedicate an important coverage to the race, although with the time that still remains until the start of the race the channel has not specified the schedule of the broadcasts.



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La Vuelta a España 2023: etapas imprescindibles, favoritos y dónde ver