São Pedro > Figueira da Foz 187.7km
Another new race for me to get my teeth into. I love it! 2414m of climbing, but the lap circuit contains a serious looking climb, this should be a hard race, and one that is selective. QuickStep, DSM, Wanty, Alpecin and Trek are the big teams, I’m looking forward to seeing how they approach the finale of this race.
Cloudy sun and temperatures will be around 15 degrees. The wind is quite strong, but most of the route is covered by trees.
The main climb is 3.2km at 6.4%, but it starts and finishes with double-digit slopes, which makes it very hard. There are a couple of other lumps in the lap, but this is where we’ll see the main damage. The steep sections are eye wateringly steep! Last time up, there’s 19km to go from the crest, going solo will be hard.
No disrespect, it’s only a 1.1 race, so not high up on the lists of races teams want to win. This means the race will be open, very attacking, and hard to predict. Teams will give freedom to many riders, it’s a great chance for someone to pull off a surprise win. However, to win this race you need to be able to cope well with double-digit gradients, and that seriously reduces the list of potential winners.
I would expect attacks every time we go up the big climb, but the race winning move should go last time up. Due to the distance still to go, I would expect a small group to go clear and fight out the win. To win this race you need to be able to climb and have a fast sprint, either that or a teammate in the front group.
Rui Costa – what a start he’s had to 2023, taking a win in Mallorca and then the final stage and GC in Valenciana. I don’t think many people thought his move to Wanty would inspire such a chain of events. Given his current form, the former world champion will start as the big favourite, especially if Kobe Goossens also continues his own fine run of form. Having both riders in the front group will give them a big chance of taking the win.
Oscar Onley – I can’t wait for Oscar to get his season off and running, the way he ended 2022 will give him a huge amount of confidence. The steep slopes are good for him, and he has a good turn of pace for the sprint. As one of my riders to watch in 2023, I’m hoping he gets off to a fast start.
Ilan Van Wilder – I think we’ll see him take big strides in 2023, it feels right. He picked up a podium spot in Mallorca, and he’ll expect another big ride in this race. Van Wilder is an excellent climber who also has a good sprint, perfect for this race.
Magnus Cort – had to delay his start of the season due to a knee injury, but he got his season off and running in Bessèges. 6th place in the TT was a sign that the injury is behind him, I’m expecting him to challenge in this race. Cort’s climbing ability never cease to amaze me, hopefully this race doesn’t come too soon for him.
Odd Christian Eiking – gives EF another great option, he’s a bit of a specialist when the gradient goes above 10%. Last year wasn’t one of his best, he’ll be hoping for better in 2023, starting here.
Quinten Hermans – this is his first race for Alpecin, it was a great piece of business by the team picking him up. Hermans is good on steep gradients, and he has an excellent sprint. He’s spent the winter riding several cross races, we’ll have to see if he immediately makes the switch to road.
Natnael Tesfatsion – Trek-Segafredo did very well to sign the talented Eritrean. He’s got a good sprint, but it’s his climbing ability that impresses me. He should be in the mix on the final lap, and he’ll be a hard man to beat if he’s sprinting for the win.
Mauricio Moreira – last year’s winner of the Volta, so I’ll throw his name in the mix.
I’ll take a first professional win for Oscar Onley.
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