The 69th edition of this race and I think this edition will make for some good racing to watch. It is more or less five stages that in a Grand Tour would be won from the breakaway. That makes it very difficult to predict. It is also one of the races with the poorest race profiles but atleast they have a roadbook.
A lovely stage with 4000 climbing meters. The amount of climbing will do its job this early on. The last climb is quite tough towards the end with 2.5 km at 8.9%. I expect the GC favorites to battle this one out.
Around 2600 climbing meters. It should be a rather calm-before-the-muro-stage. The hard climb after 130 km of racing is 1.75km at 14.2%. The finale starts here. If things do come back together, it will be a 1 km sprint at 10% at the line. It is a stage for the puncheurs and climbers.
Just 1700 climbing meters, but it is another difficult uphill finish. I do like them, but I think the organizers could have come up with something different than having a short, steep climb as the finish. On stage 3, the last climb to the line is 1.25 km at 10.6%. It should be less selective than stage 2, due to it being the only difficult climb.
Just over 330 meters of climbing. I have the GPX file bugging a bit at the climb starting after 135 km left, in reality it is 4.7km at 6.9%. That should be the start of the finale. I think this is one of the more difficult days, together with stage 1. For a third time in a row, an uphill sprint – 600m at 12.4%.
Around 3000 climbing meters. The finale suits the sprinters, but with difficult climbs throughout the stage I actually will be rooting for a breakaway.
It will start getting a bit warmer in Andalucia with degrees around 20 C. Not much wind on the forecast and the sun looks to be shining.
- It suits GC riders with a fast sprint.
- It suits GC riders who excel at shorter climbs.
- Stage 1, 2 and 4 are the decisive stages. Here, the biggest factors are short and steep ramps and a 2.5 km at 8.9% climb. It is not a race made for pure climbers.
Pogacar – he is the man to beat. He has already shown he is in good form which is no surprise, he is always in good form. They bring Wellens, Majka, Bennett and Covi as main domestiques (Novak was ill lately), it is a fantastic team to support him. He will be the favorite for four out of five stages I assume.
Tao G. Hart – did very well in Valencianna. I really do hope he will have a full season without injuries or nasty crashes. He is a fast finisher, but I do not think the ramps are his cup of tea. I think we will see him fighting for the podium but he can’t touch Pogacar.
Carlos Rodriguez – he was 10th in Valencianna. He is a very exciting rider, perhaps fitting more into the 00’s bias of steading getting better and better. He is in the same boat as his teammate, but I do think he can do better on the ramps. The thing is, I don’t think he is in top-shape just now with the goals being later in the season.
Latour – he was 3rd in Etoile de Besseges which was a good result. Form can take you a long way this early in the season. It is optimistic to say he can finish on the podium but I will almost claim with certainty that he will be in the top 10 when the race is over.
Mas – it is his first race of the season and I do not expect him to be nowhere near Pogacar’s level just now. It felt like he put on another level last season which makes him one of the best GT riders just now. Especially in the Italian classics he proved he is not just a GT rider. On paper, he is the biggest threat for Pogacar.
Guerreiro – he is the second option from Movistar Tactics. I think it was a very good signing and I think the route is good news for him. He won Saudi Tour recently and he loves a steep incline. As Mas did, Guerreiro put on another level last season. I think he is dangerous dark-horse as he has a fast sprint too.
Sobrero – a top 10 is most likely as he from time to time becomes a fantastic rider on steep inclines (Tour de Pologne 2022 and Tour of Slovenia 2021). It is the first stage that worries me the most. If he can limit his loses there, he may just pull out a good result.
Teuns – he will be the competing rider from ISPT. He looked good in Etoile de Besseges until he crashed. He won La Fleche Wallone last season and we have three muros. When he is in form, stage 1 should not be a problem either. It all depends on how well he is climbing just now. I think he is going quite well, making him a decent candidate for top-5.
Landa – the leader of Bahrain. I simply do not think the route suits him that well to challenge for the podium.
Buitrago – therefore I have included a smaller climber with a punch. He is good on the type of finales we will see. I really do hope Bahrain – Victorious will look his way, the race is simply better suited for him.
Who will win?
It will most likely be Pogacar.