Vuelta 2023: favorites, French hopefuls, route ... What you need to know about the Tour of Spain

La Vuelta 2023 starts this Saturday, from Barcelona, ​​for a time trial, before reaching Madrid in the last stage.

Vuelta 2023: favorites, French hopefuls, route ... What you need to know about the Tour of Spain

La Vuelta 2023 starts this Saturday, from Barcelona, ​​for a time trial, before reaching Madrid in the last stage. The course will be contested by three big favorites in the middle of a cast worthy of the Tour de France.

It's gone, or almost. La Vuelta 2023, the last grand tour of the season, starts in Catalonia this Saturday August 26, with a 23 km team time trial in the evening, starting at 7 p.m. After an epic Tour de France in June and crazy World Championships in Glasgow, it's an exciting new race between Barcelona and Madrid, the city of arrival on September 17.

Between the two cities, the 78th Tour of Spain has 21 stages and a total distance of 3153.8 kilometers. And the profile of the stages is particularly difficult: there will be a total of ten altitude finishes and many new climbs across three countries, Spain, Andorra and France. "The mountain is part of Vuelta's DNA and will still thrill us in 2023," explained Javier Guillén, Vuelta director. For this 2023 edition, the Tour of Spain will arrive for the first time at the Tourmalet, with its 17 kilometers of climb at an average of 7.4%. "Arriving at the Tourmalet will be a milestone in the history of our race" also explained Javier Guillén.

If the Vuelta looks so exciting, it's also because three huge favorites show up on the starting line. The defending champion, Remco Evenepoel (Soudal - Quick Step), intends to win again, but will have a hard time facing the Jumbo-Visma. Already winners of the Giro and the Tour de France and determined to offer themselves the third "Grand Tour" of the year, the Dutch team aligns its two enemy brothers, Primoz Roglic, triple winner in 2019, 2020, 2021 and Jonas Vingegaard, monster of the Grande Boucle last month.

While Roglic, leader of the Vuelta last year, was forced to retire after a crash, he is coming back in great shape to collect "his" trophy this year. Winner of the Giro, the Tour of Catalonia, but also the Tour de Burgos, Tirreno-Adriatico, he skipped the Tour de France to devote himself to this Vuelta. But his Danish teammate should not give him a gift, he who confirmed his (surprise?) participation in the Vuelta, despite an exhausting season. "I'm going to the Vuelta as co-leader with Roglic, not as a team-mate. I would like to win it," Vingegaard already warned in an interview with Spanish newspaper Marca at the end of July.

The Vuelta 2023 will also have a major absentee: Tadej Pogacar (UAE Team Emirates) will not be at the start. After being outclassed by Vingegaard on the roads of France, then defeated at the Glasgow World Championships, the Slovenian confirmed, also with Marca in mid-August, his absence on the Spanish roads. "I've been at a high level since February, there's no way I'll make La Vuelta. We have a super good team for the Tour of Spain, I don't even want to get in their way," he said. declared.

The general public will also have to do without the big names Mathieu van der Poel, Wout van Aert and other Julian Alaphilippe. While it is said that sprinters shun the Vuelta course (unless it is the opposite), rockets Fabio Jakobsen, Dylan Groenewegen or Jasper Philipsen will also be missing.

The Vuelta is also the dream of seeing the Spaniards return to their golden age. The best local hopefuls are Enric Mas and the young Juan Ayuso who will be aiming for stage victories and the podium, or even more if they have an affinity. The two men finished 2nd and 3rd in the last edition, and the dream of winning the Tour of Spain, nine years after Alberto Contador, must be firmly in their heads.

Regarding the French riders, Romain Bardet (Team DSM), Pierre Latour (TotalEnergies team) and Romain Grégoire (Groupama-FDJ) are the focus of all expectations. The first, forced to retire after fifteen stages of the Tour de France, wants to shine with his Team DSM-Firmenich.

Eyes will also be on the Groupama-FDJ team, greatly rejuvenated around Grégoire and Rudy Molard. Director Marc Madiot is counting on the succession of Thibaut Pinot and Arnaud Démare, with Lenny Martinez, Lorenzo Germani and Samuel Watson. Bryan Coquard (Cofidis) is also on the starting line.

The Vuelta traditionally takes place after the Tour de France. For its 78th edition, the start of the Tour of Spain has been scheduled for August 26, from Barcelona, ​​capital of Catalonia, more than a month after the arrival of the Tour de France (July 23). The finish of the Tour of Spain was set three weeks later, on September 17.

Holder of the TV rights to the French and Italian classics as well as the three Grand Tours (Giro, Tour de France, Vuelta), the Eurosport group has been appointed to broadcast all the stages of the Tour of Spain 2023 on its channels.

Here is the start list of the Vuelta 2023 with the competing teams and the list of riders on the starting line.

A route marked by the mountains and which leaves little room for mass arrivals... Here is the detail of the route of the Tour of Spain 2023 with the full map:

After a 14 kilometer team time trial from the seaside of the Barcelona city, the Tour of Spain will end at the Hippodrome de la Zarzuela in Madrid. The list of steps: