2023 Vuelta a San Juan Overall Preview

After a two-year COVID break the pro peloton head back to Argentina. The race is the usual mix of sprint stages and a mountaintop finish, nothing too exciting for us watching fans. The pros love this race, it provides them with important kilometres in the legs under the sunshine. Remco’s back, something the organisers will be delighted about, it’s his first stage race in the rainbow jersey.

The race begins with a standard sprint stage. With Jakobsen, Bennett, Gaviria, Nizzolo and Viviani here, I don’t see the world tour teams messing up the chase.

Scenario – bunch sprint.

Should be another standard sprint stage.

Scenario – bunch sprint

The final 2.5km averages only 2.4%, so this is likely to be the third consecutive sprint stage. By this point, the break might get a longer rope to play with.

Scenario – bunch sprint.

This stage has the most climbing of any in the week, but the hills are still well within the capabilities of the world tour sprinters. With the queen stage coming the next day, we could see the big teams all agreeing this is a day for the break, as long as they’re in it.

Scenario – breakaway day.

With the finish of Alto del Colorado at over 2600m, the figures of 20km at 4.3% will seem much harder. Last time we were here, Flórez won, Remco finished in 5th and Ganna in 6th. Given the other stages in the race, this is the day to settle the GC battle.

Scenario – mountaintop finish where the best come out to play. Won’t be selective until the end.

After a couple of days off, it’s time for the fast men to get back into action. 

Scenario – bunch sprint.

The final stage is another one that favours the sprinters, but the short distance also gives the break some hope. Like the other flat days, it all depends on the attitude of the world tour teams.

Scenario – breakaway day.

Contenders

Remco Evenepoel – as he has just 22 race days between now and the Giro, I expect him to use every single one of them to the max. You can forget about just coming to a race for training, Remco is far too young for that. He’ll be here to win, make no mistake. He won here in 2020, and as he already had a good lead thanks to the TT, he only finished 5th on Alto Colorado, he’ll be looking to win that stage this time round. I’m looking forward to seeing him go up against the South Americans at high altitude.

Miguel Ángel López – sacked by Astana for suspected links to a dodgy doctor, it’s not a good look for Superman. He’s now back racing for a Colombian team (Medellin), I’m interested to see how he approaches this race. Despite what you think of what’s happened, and remember that no evidence has been made public, he’ll be riding with a point to prove. This is a very strong motivating factor, and as he’s normally one of the best at high altitude, you’ve got to expect he’ll be pushing Remco all the way.

Egan Bernal – we’re all delighted to see him back racing. Word is he’s ahead of schedule and already producing encouraging numbers when out on training rides, that’s great news for all fans of the sport. Let’s be honest, no one really knows if he’ll be at the level required to win this race, it’s a case of suck it and see. I’d love to see him go head-to-head with Remco on Alto Colorado, that would make for great viewing.

Dani Martínez – he provides Ineos with a brilliant second option, which is very important against Remco. The Colombian had a strong 2022, but illness ruined his Tour de France, although he did come good in the end. This is contract year, he’ll be hoping to land some big results in the opening months to secure the best possible deal he can, and that starts here.

Sergio Higuita – another Colombian who’d love to win a race relatively close to home. Higuita will sense a chance of taking a sprint win on Alto Colorado, he’s certainly quick enough to do so. He ended 2022 in fine form, that would have helped him over the winter, and I expect a good start to 2023 from him.

Contenders

Can a strong Ineos duo beat Remco?

Embed from Getty Images

Probably not, I’ll take a win for Remco Evenepoel.

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