Who are the favourites for the 2023 Vuelta a Espana?
Until the racing or an abandonment or two tell us otherwise, we can keep this very simple. The main contenders for the 2023 Vuelta a Espana are the guy who won it last year; the guy who won the three before that; and the guy who’s won the last two Tours de France. I will throw a few other names into the mix lower down though because there’s a pretty strong field.
Remco Evenepoel – the guy who won it last time
If you only normally follow the Tour de France, you’ll have no real clue who Remco Evenepoel is because he’s never raced it. The plan was to win the Vuelta last year, win the Giro d’Italia this year and then win the Tour de France next year. He managed the first one and then got covided out of the Giro this spring. It’s hard to say whether he’ll do the Giro next year or skip straight to the Tour, but either way the plan will be to win the Vuelta again. In terms of pedigree, Evenepoel is also the current world time trial champion after being world road race champion last year. This sport is not just about Jonas Vingegaard and Tadej Pogacar.
Primoz Roglic – the guy who won the three before that
It can at times feel like the world has moved on from 33-year-old Primoz Roglic, but just a quick reminder that he won the Giro d’Italia – the second biggest race in the calendar – as recently as May. He also has three Vuelta victories to his name and was just starting to show signs of closing in on Evenepoel when he unfortunately crashed out last year. Depending how things go, he may also end up with this next fella as a support rider.
Jonas Vingegaard – the guy who’s won the last two Tours de France
Do I need to expand on that subheading? No, I don’t. Misfortune or a lack of interest are probably the only things that would keep Vingegaard from being a contender. With Roglic alongside him, he also rides for the strongest team. The two men will also have assistance from Sepp Kuss, who managed to finish 12th in this year’s Tour de France pretty much by accident and may well do better still here in a more mountainous race in a shallower field.
The Ineos Grenadiers team always has its fair share of strong riders. Geraint Thomas – second at this year’s Giro – will probably be the strongest unless Egan Bernal’s made further strides in his recovery.
Team UAE may not have Tadej Pogacar at this race, but they aren’t short of options. 20-year-old Juan Ayuso was third last year, which was a fairly ridiculous result for a teenager, and they also have Joao Almeida, who was third at this year’s Giro, and Jay Vine, who won two stages last year and looked capable of more.
Finally, Movistar’s Enric Mas has been runner-up the last two years and once before that, but has always had a ‘best of the rest’ way about him.
Oh, you know, the usual: relatively short stages, hilltop finishes all over the place, mountains peppered throughout (seven, officially), little-to-no sprinting. Stage 2 is classed as ‘hilly’ and Stage 3 is a mountain stage and a summit finish so we’re not pissing about here.
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