For the second time in its history, the Spanish tour will take off from Barcelona. The city will host an urban team time trial as its first stage and the second stage will depart from Mataró and arrive in Barcelona once again, in front of the Lluís Companys Olympic Stadium.
“When we looked at Barcelona, we took into account four essential pillars that define the city and fit in perfectly with La Vuelta’s own philosophy: sports, sustainability, tradition and innovation. As a large cycling event, those four characteristics are extremely important to us,” said Javier Guillén, General Director of La Vuelta.
Following the two initial finish-lines in Barcelona, the peloton will then head to Andorra from Súria to experience the race’s first mountain stage. The Principality will host La Vuelta 23’s first brand new high-altitude finale with a climb of Arinsal. The riders will sleep in Andorra before heading South from Andorra La Vella towards Tarragona in order to conclude the race’s initial Catalan and Andorran journey.
The Autonomous Community of Valencia will be the star of the next phase of La Vuelta. The riders will ride through the Province of Castellón in a mid-mountain stage between Morella and Burriana. The Castellón locality of La Vall d’Uixó will be the starting point for the next stage, heading to Teruel, with the final climb up to the Observatorio Astrofísico de Javalambre as the day’s main attraction.
The race’s first flat stage will take place on the 7th day, with a finale that will benefit the sprinters at Oliva. The peloton will then bid farewell to the Autonomous Community of Valencia with a finale along the Costa Blanca, on a summit that is already well-known to the riders: Xorret de Catí.
As a final challenge to end the week before the rest day, the Region of Murcia will put the riders to the test with a stage beginning at the coast, in Cartagena, heading inland towards the finish-line in Caravaca de la Cruz.
The second week of competing will begin in the Province of Valladolid with a 25-kilometre individual time trial. The peloton will then continue its route towards Castilla y León’s West, in order to visit the Laguna Negra in Vinuesa. Zaragoza will provide sprinters will a final opportunity before heading to the Pyrenees for two challenging mountain stages: Aubisque and Tourmalet first, and Issarbe, Larrau and Larra-Belagua on the second day – two stages that will play a deciding role within the race. Pamplona and Lekunberri will host the stage before the second and final rest day.
“Mountains are a part of La Vuelta’s DNA and will make the 2023 edition very exciting, yet again,” said Guillén. “The Tourmalet will be a landmark in the history of our race and will be this year’s great colossus, along with the Angliru. We continue searching for new summits in order to showcase great cycling and it is in this search that we discovered new finales at Larra-Belagua, Cruz de Linares and Bejes, and such mountain passes as Larrau and Issarbe,” explains the race’s General Director.
The demanding nature of the race will not diminish in the last week of racing as, following the unprecedented high-altitude finale in Bejes, will be La Vuelta’s great colossus: L’Angliru. The Principality of Asturias will, once again, be the judge of the race with its unprecedented high-altitude finale in Cruz de Linares, as was the case in 2022 with the Colláu Fancuaya.
The Castilian wind may play an important role on the way to Íscar, giving sprinters their opportunity before arriving in Madrid. The second-last linear stage will be held in the Guadarrama Basin in a “classic” stage format, featuring 10 3rd category climbs that will determine La Vuelta’s final overall winner before the traditional final stage in Madrid.
As a former racer and multiple Vuelta podium finisher, Joaquim Rodríguez observed for CyclingNews when the route was presented in Barcelona on Tuesday evening, “there’s a mid-race time trial in Valladolid, but I don’t think it’ll be tough enough to change the overall outcome in favour of the climbers.”
Who would you favour then? Will Remco Evenepoel return and triumph? What do you think?