The 62nd edition of Vuelta al Pais Vasco (or the Tour of the Basque Country) is here, welcoming the world’s top cyclists who’ll compete over six stages and nearly 1k kilometers (992.5) in one of the greatest races of the UCI WorldTour 2023 circuit.
Tour of the Basque Country 2023 Format & Schedule
The Tour of the Basque Country will mark the 18th race on the UCI WorldTour 2023 circuit and the 62nd edition of the race, which was first held in 1924. The race takes some of the world’s top cyclists from the city of Vitoria-Gasteiz to the finish line in Eibar.
- Date: April 3-8, 2023
- Track: Vitoria-Gasteiz to Eibar, Spain
- Where to Watch: EuroSport
The Tour of the Basque Country 2023 is a fairly hilly race featuring three mountain and three medium mountain stages, which is good news for some of the riders, while others will be happy to know that there is no TT. But what everyone can agree on is that the weather forecast is excellent – which is rare for this part of the world.
A Hilly, Yet Diverse Race
The Tour of the Basque Country 2023 will start on Monday, April 3, with the first stage, which will lead the cyclists from Vitoria to Labastida. The first stage is the third-shortest of the race, measuring 165.4km and is the only one that offers a rare spring opportunity.
So while every stage will have an effect on how the race will go, the opening stage might not be the best indication of which cyclists will finish strong. The good conditions for fast cyclists will continue into the second stage, whose final climb – despite being cat 2, is relatively easy, 9km at under 4%.
Things will look a bit different in stage 3, which is a funny stage with three steep climbs at the end of it uncategorised. And even though they’re all short, all are double-digit climbs (1km at 11%) and should give a better indication of which cyclists are best suited to deliver.
Stage 4 won’t be too demanding until the very end, where the cyclists will meet a very difficult climb – 7.5km in length at 6.3%. The hellish descent from it has been a reason for concern in the past, but we should have dry weather, so it hopefully won’t result in any accidents.
Moving to stage five, it offers a few lumps and bumps towards the end, but overall, it likely won’t make much of a difference. The same can’t be said for the final – stage 6.
The final stage of the Tour of the Basque Country 2023 will prove to be quite challenging for all cyclists. 137km in length, it’s the shortest stage of the six, and while this year the Arrate climb was removed that doesn’t take away from the three cat 1 climbs which are brutal and the deciding factor of the GC.
The fairly easy finish could see the groups come back together, though, so it’s entirely likely that the Tour of the Basque Country 2023 won’t be decided until the final stretch.
The Leading Contenders
The Tour of the Basque Country 2023 will welcome many exceptional cyclists, yet only a few stand out as strong contenders to win it all.
Jonas Vingegaard – is and always will be a big favourite for races like the Tour of the Basque Country. After losing in Paris-Nice, he’ll be motivated to deliver, and he should handle all the challenges the race presents well.
Vingegaard shouldn’t struggle too much with cat 1 climbs, so he should do well in the final stage, but Vingegaard will need his teammate to show a huge climbing performance to come out on top.
David Gaudu – like Vingegaard, Gaudu couldn’t deliver in Nice-Paris, but he had a solid performance. Moreover, the steep climbs suit him well – evidently, since he was one of the few cyclists who could follow Roglič here a few years ago.
Dani Martínez – after winning Volta ao Algarve, Martínez had a disastrous showing in Paris-Nice; however, he enters the Tour of the Basque Country 2023 as defending champion, so he’s not to be ignored entirely. Still, his form is concerning.
Enric Mas – despite a strong start to the year, Mas has yet to secure a victory. He does well in climbs, and this race should suit him well, so while Mas might not be the most exciting name on the list, he has the tools to go all the way.
Who Will Win Tour of the Basque Country 2023
The Tour of the Basque Country 2023 will welcome many cyclists who have the skills and the talent to win, but there are too many “what IFs” to pick one as the main favourite. Can Vingegaard count on his teammates to deliver, will Gaudu step up and deliver, or will Martínez manage to defend his title?
And it doesn’t help that the first two stages likely won’t give us a good indication of which cyclist will come out on top, so we’ll likely have to wait until the sixth stage to get any answers.
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