2023 Vuelta a San Juan Stage 5 Preview

San Juan > Alto del Colorado 173.8km

The big GC day with a trip up to Alto del Colorado. It’s time to see Remco go up against the South Americans.


Not as warm as previous stages, with temperatures not really getting above 25 degrees. The wind is coming from the south-east and will be around 25km/h, and as the stage mainly heads north it means there are lots of possibilities to form echelons.

The Climb

Its’s a steady Eddie sort of climb, nothing to really write home about. 20km at 4.3% normally wouldn’t worry a proper climber but the altitude is the issue, the stage finishes at 2600m above sea level.


Someone will try and create echelons, some of the riders would prefer a hard day in the saddle rather than an easy day with a big effort at the end.

Once on the climb we’ll see who’s been working hard over the winter. The South Americans will have a natural advantage, they’ve been training in the sun for several months, and they’re better suited to high altitude. Ineos should be the strongest team in the finale, they have Ganna, Rivera, Bernal and Martínez, all of whom can climb. 

QuickStep will expect Evenepoel and Hirt to go the full distance, this will be crucial against the numbers of Ineos. Most of the other favourites could find themselves a little isolated in the final 5km, this will be a worry for someone like Higuita. The little Colombian is probably the fastest finisher of the climbers, no one will want to tow him to the line. 

I think we’ll see Ineos and QuickStep to try and use their numbers to put Higuita under pressure, but what about Medellin? Just how deep into the stage will López, Duarte and Sevilla go? To fight against the bigger teams, they’ll need at least two riders left in the closing stages, which is possible considering this is one of their main targets for the season.

Contenders (or Remco versus the South Americans!)

Remco Evenepoel – he’s not yet at race weight, which is no surprise as most of the challengers in this race will be in the same position. Last time we were here Remco finished in 5th place, but that was enough to secure the GC, thanks to the TT. This time round it’s all about the climb. The gradients aren’t going to cause him any issues, but the altitude could. He’ll be happy to see that it won’t be as hot as previous days, and I also think we’ll see his team trying something in the wind before we hit the lower slopes of Alto del Colorado. It won’t be easy for a European to win here, but if anyone can do it, Remco can.

Dani Martínez – he started 2022 in brilliant form, winning the Colombian TT title and then finishing 3rd in Algarve and Paris-Nice, before winning Itzulia. Will he start this year in the same ilk? Ineos have a very strong team at this race, and I would expect Martínez to be their trump card. He’s got an excellent sprint too, so he won’t be too worried about taking a few to the line, but probably not Higuita. Ineos need to put him under pressure, so we should see Ganna, and Bernal used as attacking options, trying to force Higuita into using valuable energy before the finish.

Sergio Higuita – he could really do with a teammate on Alto del Colorado. He knows that everyone will be looking at him as he has the best sprint, I can guarantee that he’ll come under pressure in the final 5km. To win this stage he’ll need to ride a clever race, he needs to force others into chasing moves, he won’t be able to do it all by himself.

Miguel Ángel López – said that he didn’t properly start training until the new year, I’m not sure I buy that. It looks like he’s trying to take some of the pressure off his shoulders. López stands out in this field when you look at his results at high altitude, he’s one who normally performs very well when we head over 2000m. With a strong team to back him up, López should be one of the men challenging for the win, but we’ll have to see if he was telling the truth about his preparation.

Einer Rubio – it’s all to do with his winter training. Rubio is the type of rider who could surprise the big names already mentioned, but he needs to be on flying form.

Harold Tejada – the Astana man is a very solid climber who is always used in a domestique role. This is a rare chance for him to chase some personal glory, he’ll be super motivated to show everyone what he can do.

German Tivani – he’s looked excellent in the opening four stages, but can he cope with such a long climb? He was 9th back in 2020, but a poor 27th back in 2019. He looks on fine form, but I have my doubts about how he’ll cope in the closing kilometres.

Prediction Time

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He might not be at his very best but I’m still going with Remco Evenepoel to take the win.