2023 Vuelta Ciclista a la Región de Murcia Costa Cálida Preview

San Javier > Cartagena 197.7km

We have an interesting change in the finish, hopefully the race is altogether for a grandstand finale. Alessandro Covi is the defending champion, he’s back with a very strong UAE squad who start as the big favourites to take another win, can anyone stop them?


Light rain showers throughout the day and wind which will eventually reach around 30km/h. It’s a cross/tailwind for most of the opening 100km, then on the way back there’s a lot of headwind.

The Climbs

The big climb in the middle of the race. 17.8km at 5.3% and that includes a section of flat in the middle. With a strong tailwind, the best riders will fly up this hill. From the crest there’s 90km to go.

This little kicker crests with just 18km to go, it’s a very important point in the race. The good news for the weaker climbers is the block headwind, which will slow everything down.


I love the new finish, it’s a great way to finish this race. In the final kilometre the riders go under a bridge, then loop round and go across the same bridge, then it’s a tight right-hand turn to start the climb to the line. Positioning is huge in a finish like this.


UAE look much stronger than every other team in this race, they’ll expect to get the type of race they want. They arguably have four riders who could win this race, and they all possess a quick uphill sprint, I expect the team to ride for this outcome.

Some will hope to attack from distance, but the raging headwind for most of the final 70km will deter serious attacks from some of the big hitters. The headwind will also give sprinters a chance of rejoing the front of the race after being dropped on the big climb. The same quick men will hope the headwind will help them to survive to the end, in a race they wouldn’t normally be able to. It certainly adds another dynamic to the race, the front group at the end could be surprisingly big. 


UAE – take your pick from Covi, Hirschi, Trentin and Wellens. It’s hard to say who has the best uphill sprint, I might say Covi given the way he performed in Ruta del Sol last year. They have all the bases covered, anything but a win for the team would be a big surprise, and not in a good way! Will it be rock, paper, scissors on the bus to decide leadership?

Luis León Sánchez – the local “boy” and he has two wins to his name. Sánchez has the extra motivation of riding in front of friends and family but winning this race will be very hard for him. I think he’s got a good shot at the top 5.

Bryan Coquard – one of the few sprinters who are in the race, he’s one that UAE will be a little concerned about. Coquard is brilliant in an uphill finish, UAE can’t afford for him to be near the front in the final kilometre, they need to ensure we have a fast race, despite the headwind. Coquard will look at the weather and think he’s got a good chance of making the cut, it’s likely to be the main story of the race.

Valentin Madouas – first race of the season, so I’m not sure what we’re going to get. On paper, this is a good race for him, and he should be one of the fastest at the end.

Lennert Van Eetvelt – first year as a pro and hasn’t he started well. He picked up two podium finishes in Mallorca and will come here full of confidence. He looks like a classic puncheur to me and will hope to be challenging for his first pro win.

Andreas Kron – provides Lotto with another option, and a good one considering his fast finish. 2022 wasn’t a great year for him, he’d love to start 2023 with a win.

Nick Schultz – another of the “first race of the year” crew. It’s just so hard to predict how these guys will match up against riders who’ve already got a few races in the legs. Schultzy would normally be one of the best in this type of finish, but we’ll have to wait and see. If not him, the team also have Simon Clarke, a rider who’ll like the look of this race.

Prediction Time

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UAE are far too strong to not win this race. I’ll go for Alessandro Covi to go back-to-back.