2023 Itzulia Basque Country Stage 6 Preview

Eibar > Eibar 137.4km

Well, well, well, what do we have here. I’m back my holidays and couldn’t resist the chance of previewing this beautiful stage. It’s like the final stage in 2021, but not identical. That day started with 2km at 9%, this day doesn’t. Then follows the same climbs: Azurki, Gorla, Krabelin and Trabakua. In 2021 the riders then headed for the famous Arrate climb, which finished the stage, this year the riders climb the mighty Izua, before a relatively easy finish. 3340m of climbing in just 137km, absolute carnage.


A glorious day to finish the race.

Key Points

The first climb of the day. 

The descent which follows, it’s very narrow and splits can happen.

The 2nd climb of the day, a relatively easy effort compared to the rest.

A very fast descent follows, another chance to cause splits, just like in 2021.

The Krabelin comes next, which is a bike path that takes the bunch up to Arrate. A little fact, the riders used to use this to ride back to the buses when the stage finished with the Arrate climb. This is the hardest climb of the day, and for most, the whole year.

The Izua climb, another beauty.

Urkaregi is the final climb of the day, it’s much easier than the rest but it’s still possible to drop riders due to fatigue. From the crest there’s 12.6km to go.


This race is still wide open, Vingegaard is 13s ahead of Landa, Skjelmose and Gaudu are at 32s, Sobrero and Izagirre at 34s, Mas at 37s, Higuita is at 38s, McNulty at 39s, Yates at 40s, Knox at 47s, Urán at 50s and Gall is at 51s. That’s 12 riders within 1 minute of the lead, which is why life is going to be very difficult for Jumbo-Visma. 

To start with, they only have 6 riders, and in most stages only Oomen and Valter have been able to last deep into the stage. Vingegaard is going to come under huge pressure in this stage, it’s impossible to keep eyes on everyone. This makes me think attack is the best form of defence, he needs to go for it on the Krabelin, but his rivals will try and put the pressure on before then. The main man is Valter, he needs to survive until Vingegaard attacks on the Krabelin. Once over that climb, Vingegaard will take stock and decide on what to do in the rest of the stage. 

The key for the rest of the day is who goes with Vingegaard, and will they ride? In 2021, Roglič took Gaudu and Carthy with him, and both took turns on the front to help him, especially after he told them he wouldn’t go for the stage. The problem Jonas will have is the presence of Landa, will he help with the work? The climbs aren’t going to be the issue for Vingegaard, the flat roads spell danger, as it’s hard for him to follow all the moves. The smaller the group the easier it is for him to control.

Then we have the second group on the road, will they cooperate with each other to come back to the front? This is impossible to predict at this point, it all depends on who’s in the group and what the dynamic is like. The issue is, if you’ve been dropped on the Krabelin, it’s likely you’ll be dropped on the Izua climb. 

In an ideal world for Jumbo-Visma, Vingegaard drops Landa on the Krabelin, takes a small group with him and manages to persuade everyone to work in return for the stage win. If Landa survives, the rest of the stage is a tactical nightmare and is likely to be a dog fight.

Imagine a situation where the front group is Vingegaard, Landa, Gaudu and one other. When someone attacks, everyone looks at Vingegaard. He brings it back, someone else attacks, there’s only so many moves he can cover. Can Jonas persuade the others to ride?


Jonas Vingegaard – looks the strongest rider, but this stage is a different kettle of fish. All eyes will be on him, his chances of winning rely on him getting the right mix of riders to go with him. Valter is good, but I don’t see him lasting until the Izua climb, that’s the problem for Jonas. He needs to attack and see what happens, decisions made on the road will likely decide if he wins.

Mikel Landa – he’s been brilliant this week, the best I’ve seen him for a while. This is his home race, he’s won two stages in the past, but never the GC. The home fans will go crazy if he manages to drop Vingegaard, but we all know that’s going to be hard. I’m interested in if he goes all in for the GC win and risks the stage in the process. The other option is to settle for the stage win and 2nd place on GC, I really hope he doesn’t do this.

Enric Mas – this is a great stage for the Spaniard, he’ll have high hopes of taking the win, just like he did in 2018. Just 6 pro wins in his career, that’s a poor return for someone so talented. This week I don’t think he’s looked at his very best, he’ll need to find a little bit more if he wants to win this stage. Can he follow the best on the steep climbs?

David Gaudu – won this stage in 2021, he’ll be full of confidence going into this day. After a brilliant Paris-Nice, he’ll have arrived here hoping to take the overall title. Sitting 32s behind Vingegaard makes it tough, but that type of gap can easily be made up in a stage like this.

Ion Izagirre – he’s likely to risk it all for the win, it’s his style. The legs are good, and this is a stage he normally enjoys.

Mattias Skjelmose – the legs are very good just now, he could surprise a few by being able to follow the best on the Krabelin. You know I have high hopes for this young man, I think the time is right for him to take another step forward.

Sergio Higuita – too hard for him.

Brandon McNulty – this stage cracked him in 2021, he’ll hope to get some revenge this time round. He looks better as each stage goes on, hopefully he’s now at his best as this is a stage he could win.

Simon Yates – doesn’t look at his best.

Prediction Time

I have no idea! Vingegaard, Landa and maybe another one or two to ride away on the Krabelin, but what happens after is impossible to work out. If Landa rides, plays for the stage win, and 2nd on GC, I’ll throw my cup of tea at the telly. 

Embed from Getty Images

I’m hating myself for this prediction, but I think Mikel Landa takes the stage and Vingegaard the GC. It’s Roglič and Remco all over again.