2023 Volta a Catalunya Overall Preview

It’s the 102nd edition of this beautiful race, and it’s the hardest route I can remember. Instead of the usual two mountaintop finishes, this year we’ve got three, I am a happy boy.

The opening stage is basically the same as last year when Michael Matthews beat Sonny Colbrelli in a gruelling uphill sprint. You’ll remember that Colbrelli suffered a cardiac arrest just after the stage, thankfully the medical people were able to save his life, but I do miss watching him race. 

Scenario – sprint, but a very tough one, the final kilometre seems to go on forever.

It’s just the second stage and already it’s time for a big GC day, with the climb to Vallter 2000. Adam Yates has won here the last two times the race has visited; can he make it three in a row?

Scenario – big GC day.

No rest for the wicked, we bounce straight into another GC day with the climb to La Molina, a staple in this race. With over 4000m of climbing, it’s the hardest stage of the race, but La Molina can often disappoint in terms of a big GC battle.

Scenario – break has a little chance as stage 2 will have created big gaps on GC, but it should be another GC day.

The fourth stage is either one for the sprinters or the breakaway. The climb at the start means it’s very hard for the sprint teams to control, but there’s a long way to go from the crest.

Scenario – bunch sprint.

The fifth stage sees the race climb Lo Port for the first time since 2017. If you don’t know it, the climb is very demanding, the toughest in the race.

Scenario – GC day.

A lumpy stage with contains two tough climbs near the end, making it too hard for the sprinters.

Scenario – nailed on breakaway day.

The race ends with the usual stage in Barcelona and 6 laps of the Montjuïc circuit. One of the best stages on the calendar.

Scenario – could be break, could be GC, it all depends on the GC situation.


Remco Evenepoel – after winning the UAE Tour he’s been training at altitude in Tenerife, and by all accounts, he’s going rather well. He arrives with the team that is likely to support him at the Giro, and it’s a group of riders I like the look of. They have Serry, Masnada, Vervaeke, Cattaneo, Van Wilder and Hirt, they can go deep into the mountain stages with riders like this. For me, Vallter 2000 is a big test for Remco as it finishes at 2120m above sea level. He’s not done too many finishes like this, and its great preparation for the Giro stage which finishes at 2262m. The slight concern in this race is the lack of a TT, which is where Remco usually gets an advantage over his rivals, he’ll have to win this race the hard way.

Primož Roglič – three stages and the GC in Tirreno, he’s going okay just now! Roglič has an incredible record in this part of the world, I’m excited to see him going up against Evenepoel, a little starter portion of what the Giro is going to be like. He’s got a strong team to back him up, and if he’s improved since Tirreno, he’s going to be a very hard man to beat.

UAE – they arrive with Almeida and Yates as co-leaders. Both are going well just now, and they also have a good track record in this race. I think Yates should be their best option in this race, but I have a habit of underestimating Almeida. With Vallter 2000 coming in stage 2, the road will quickly decide who the team leader will be for the rest of the race.

Richard Carapaz – his first proper outing for EF. Despite seeming to have been around forever, Carapaz is only 29, that surprised me. No TT is perfect for him, he’ll be looking forward to the high-altitude finish on stage 2, it should allow him to start the race well and challenge for the win.

Bahrain – Landa’s form is growing, he was a solid 7th in Tirreno, and looked good in the GC days. As this race doesn’t have a TT, he’ll have a much better chance of challenging for the podium. They also have Jack Haig as a second option, he was 10th in Paris-Nice, which was a good return to form for a rider who didn’t race for a long time after crashing out of the Tour de France. Then they’ve got Mäder as another option, he was excellent in Paris-Nice, finishing in 5th place. Bahrain will hope one of their riders finish on the podium.

Geraint Thomas – first race since the Tour Down Under, so he could be a little rusty. He’s had a few injuries which have stopped him racing before now, but I would expect him to already be on good form. Ineos also have Bernal at this race, but he also has had to deal with a recent injury. Fingers crossed both riders are at their top level and capable of challenging for the win.

Romain Bardet – 7th in Paris-Nice was a decent result, but he was a long way from the podium. He should be better in this race, he’s one of many riders who’ll be targeting a top 5 result thanks to three mountaintop finishes and no time trial kilometres.

Jai Hindley – he left Tirreno disappointed with his performance, he’ll be happy that he gets a quick chance to put that right. As a Giro winner, Hindley must be considered as one of the best in the world, but his performances away from the Giro often leave me scratching my head. The key for him is finding the level of consistency the top riders display in all races, not just the grand tours. 

Giulio Ciccone – aside from his Giro stage win last year, 2021 and 2022 have often looked like a struggle for him. It’s great to see that 2023 is not the same, he’s already taken a win and has been up there in both Valenciana and Tirreno. Confidence will be high, and he’s someone that looks like a confidence rider. Given his current legs, he should be challenging for the podium. 

Prediction Time

I think we’re all looking forward to watching Evenepoel go up against Roglič, and with the Giro not too far away, it will give a great indication of who the favourite is for the pink jersey. 

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I’m going for a Primož Roglič win, I think he’ll be even better than he was in Tirreno.