It looks like the Vuelta a España is sticking to what it does best for the 2023 edition.
The rumor mill is churning ahead of next month’s route reveal for the Spanish tour, and it seems that anyone wanting to follow Remco Evenepoel into the red jersey will need some strong climbing legs.
“The mountains will decide La Vuelta,” Vuelta race director Javier Guillén warned.
Recent reports indicate the notoriously vert-riddled three-weeker will serve ascents of the infamous Angliru and Tourmalet climbs among around eight uphill finishes.
Stretching from August 26 through September 17, next year’s Vuelta is also expected to include unprecedented leg-snapper mountaintop finishes, an opening team time trial, and a mid-race chrono.
The Vuelta typically works out as the wildest grand tour of the season – expect nothing different next summer.
“It will be a great Vuelta, spectacular. Things never play to everyone’s liking, but I think it will please,” Guillén said recently.
Here are some of the things we’re expecting to see when Guillén pulls the curtain on the full parcours for the 2023 Vuelta on January 10.
Barcelona team time trial for the ‘big start’
Starting with what we know for sure – after the Dutch start of 2022, next year’s Vuelta will roll out from Barcelona in what will be the race’s first visit to the Catalan city since 2012.
Barcelona’s first “Gran Salida” since 1962 will see the race’s opening red jersey awarded after a blitzing 14km team time trial through the bustling city streets.
The second stage starts outside Barcelona before heading back to the city for a finish on the grinding Alto de Montjuïc uphill.
Yes, you read it right. The Angliru is back!
Last featured in 2020 when Hugh Carthy gurned and grimaced his way to victory on Spain’s kingmaker climb, the Angliru is expected to appear deep into the final phase of the 2023 Vuelta.
Nestled in the heart of Asturias, the 12km leg-snapper will make for a centerpiece of a grand tour expected to keep a northern bias. This year’s race largely stayed in the sunny south of Spain after its opening phase in the Netherlands, the Basque Country, and across the northern coast.
And as if the Angliru wasn’t enough, the Tourmalet is also on the slate for 2023.
A regular in the Tour de France, various reports indicate the Pyrénéan giant will host the pro peloton at least three times next season.
Racers of the Tour de France and Tour de France Femmes will be first to the top of the 2,115m Tourmalet before the Vuelta peloton rumbles over its 17km+ slopes some six weeks later, possibly in the second week of the competition.
The trip to France won’t be the only time the peloton sees non-Spanish road surface next summer, with the pro cycling enclave of Andorra also on the docket for next year’s Vuelta.
Eight summit finishes
Just like the Giro d’Italia goes big on time trials and huge climbs, the Vuelta has a soft spot for uphill finishes.
Recent reports in Spanish outlet AS indicate there will be around eight summit finishes in 2023, including a first-ever finish line on the Alicantan misery-maker, the Miserat. Expect several stretches steeper than 20 percent on what is regarded as one of the toughest road climbs in the province.
Rumors hint that a mid-race time trial will temper all the uphill in next year’s Vuelta.
The Valladolid region northwest of Madrid is expected to stage a race against the clock in 2023 in what will be a crucial day for any rider with GC aspiration.
Time trials don’t capture the headlines like an uphill finish, but they typically prove just as crucial.
Evenepoel blitzed to a 48-second victory in the mid-tour TT this summer in a stage that cemented his place at the top of the GC. Primoz Roglič asserted his dominance over nearest rival Enric Mas the year before that by beating the Spaniard by more than two minutes across the final stage’s 34km test.
Who will be there? Who knows …
Riders rarely confirm their intentions to take on La Vuelta until late in the season. Bad luck or bad legs at the start of the calendar typically shape the Spanish start list more than any carefully crafted early season masterplan.
And this year, there’s an extra complication – the Glasgow multi-format world championships plays out just weeks before the Vuelta’s “gran salida.” The shift away from the road worlds’ traditional late-season slot could ripple through the Spanish tour.
One thing that is certain is that race chief Guillén is pinning his hopes on a strong Spanish presence in the 2023 Vuelta.
A new crop of Spanish talent flooded into the top 10 of this summer’s race, and he’s hoping for a repeat as the nation looks to fill the void left by the now-retired Alejandro Valverde.
“Evenepoel has already announced that he will go to the Giro, but we do not rule out that he can do a double,” Guillén said. “We would also be excited if young Spaniards were there, such as Juan Ayuso and Carlos Rodríguez.”
Stay tuned to VeloNews for full route details after the official reveal on January 10.