Volta ao Algarve em Bicicleta 2023 – GC Preview

We are back in Algarve for the usual finale on Foia and Malhao. It is a fairly similar edition to last season.

Stage 1

Usually a day for the sprinters. The stage has 2400 climbing meters and we will have to see if anyone wants to put the hammer down in the second half of the stage to drop the sprinters.

Stage 2

Alto de Foia stage. Usually a GC sprint without too many time gaps. We often find the “losers” of the race here. Let’s just hope they won’t crash in the uphill sprint.

Stage 3

This will be a bunch sprint.

Stage 4

Alto do Malhao. The most decisive of the climbing stages.

Stage 5

A longer time trial. This is usually as important as stage 4, if not more important.

Weather

Between 16 – 20 degrees C. It is a mix of rainy and sunny weather for the riders throughout the week.

Key factors

  • Stage 2 is usually a bit of a bummer. Do not expect large gaps between the top-10 favorites.
  • Stage 4 usually sees bigger splits, but not between the top-3/top-5.
  • The TT will likely be the most important stage of the race.

Contenders

Arensman – proved he was a good signing in Valenciana. Since the stage race is heavily impacted by a time trial, he could do wonders here. I will be very curious to see, how well he does on the steep Malhao. I think it will cause him problems.

Martinez – he did well here last year with a 3rd overall. He is quite punchy and got a top 5 result on both Foia and Malhao in 2022. TT wise, he is not the worst either. He already has a few races in the legs, but he would have to improve from the San Juan performances to be a contender here – and I think he will.

Van Wilder Рfinally looks to get some well-deserved cart̩ blanche. He is good enough to challenge for a race like this on his own. He packs a good time trial, despite not really having a good result in a TT last year. In 2021, he did brilliantly against the clock. As for his current form, he was the one controlling the tense finale in Figueira Champions Classic for Casper Pedersen. He is flying just now.

Mollema – despite him not being in his prime, he could still be a good contender for a top-10. He can still punch and in 2022, he took his time trial level to new heights. I think a top-10 is reasonable but a top-5 is not being unrealistic.

Almeida – starts with home field advantage. Almeida is difficult to figure out. It seems he is good on longer climbs with lower gradients and good on shorter, steep inclines too. It is the hardest climbs in the world that keeps him hanging behind the favorites slowly grinding his way back. Therefore, Malhao and Foia are good climbs for him and his TT abilities are world class. I would not be surprised if he was the favorite for the bookies.

Hindley – he could do well. He was better than I thought Down Under. Now, almost month later, he should be even better. The TT is the main issue.

Higuita – in contention for two stage wins, but the TT is too poor.

Rui Costa – a renaissance for him. It has been a few years since he did a good time against the clock and that will be the main issue for him to win.

Foss – world TT champion. According to my mental arithmetic, he would have been on the podium or very close had he not crashed in the sprint with Higuita on stage 2 last edition. Given the likelihood of him getting a rise in morale with the rainbow jersey against the clock, I could see him challenging for the win overall.

Who will win?

It will be much closer this year without Evenepoel. Uphill sprinting and time trialling is not the usual cocktail for predicting a winner. Nonetheless, I will go for Almeida to take the win on home soil – it is only fitting when he is national champion too.

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