A stage-by-stage guide to the route of the 2023 Vuelta a EspañaRead more
Date: Saturday, August 26, 2023 - Sunday, September, 17, 2023
Start: Barcelona, Spain
Finish: Madrid, Spain
Total distance: 3,153.8km
Defending champion: Remco Evenepoel (Soudal - Quick-Step)
Key info: Route
The Vuelta a España, or La Vuelta, is one of cycling's three Grand Tours, along with the Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France.
Part of the UCI WorldTour, the three-week race is the most prestigious race in Spain and is now in its 78th edition. While it took time for the Vuelta to gain similar footing with the Tour and the Giro, overall victory at the race is a coveted prize that will often see the best riders in cycling go head-to-head to win.
Like the other Grand Tours, the Vuelta is held over 21 individual stages (plus two rest days) with the general classification victory awarded to the rider with the lowest aggregated time at the end of the race. While the colour of the jersey for overall leader has changed numerous times in the race's history, it made the switch from a yellow jersey to a red jersey in 2010 and has remained that way since.
Though the Vuelta is similar in format to the Giro and the Tour, it still holds much of its own identity. The route, which changes every year, in recent editions has been defined by its aggressive amount of climbing, offering very little opportunity for stage wins to sprinters or rouleurs in the way of flat routes and time trials.
The 2023 edition looks no different, sticking with what it knows best – the mountains. With seven mountain stages, six hilly stages, two flat stages with uphill finishes, four flat stages and two time trials, this year’s route is definitely one geared towards the climbers of the peloton.
Defending champion Remco Evenepoel (Soudal - Quick-Step) is yet to be confirmed as a starter for this year’s edition but has announced he will be heading to the Giro d’Italia in May 2023, which is heavily dominated by time trials. That could potentially leave the red jersey up for grabs to someone new. There's a chance we could see three-time Vuelta winner Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) return after an unfortunate crash during stage 16 of last year’s race to try and take a fourth overall win, while there's plenty of opportunity on this year's course for a plethora of talented climbers to claim a maiden Grand Tour win.
Vuelta a España 2023 teams
The Vuelta a España features 23 teams, 18 of which are the UCI WorldTour teams, two second division ProTeams, and three wildcards selected by the race organisers. The 2023 team start list has not yet been confirmed.
Vuelta a España 2022 route
The 78th edition of the Vuelta is a feast for the climber's of the peloton, taking in a number of brutal climbs including the legendary Col du Tourmalet and Alto de L'Angliru.
Following suit of the other Grand Tours, the Vuelta will begin on home soil in Barcelona with a team time trial on the city streets. Any overall contenders with a strong team and a penchant for racing against the clock will have to relish this moment, as this is one of only two time trials to feature throughout the Vuelta 2023 route.
Stage two is where the riders get a small taste of what’s to come as they take on the race's first category two climb before an undulating finish. Stage three dips into the Pyrenees from Súria to Arinsal, and is topped off with a summit finish. The next two stages that follow are fairly rolling with plenty of category two and three climbs thrown into the mix.
After plenty of challenging stages testing the legs of the pack in the opening week, stage seven will come as a welcome relief for the climbers as the sprinters take the spotlight. But they can’t relax for too long as stage eight from Dénia to Xorret de Catí is arguably one of the toughest stages of the first week, treating the peloton to 20% gradients on the brutal summit finish.
Week one finishes in the southernmost point of the race in Caravaca de la Cruz with a category two summit finish before the first rest day.
Off the back of a long transfer to the north of Spain, the second week opens with the only other time trial featured in the route. This time though it's every man for himself, as riders tackle a 25km individual time trial. Stages 11 and 12 move the peloton through northern Spain towards the Pyrenees, where in the following two back-to-back days the riders are hit with the Vuelta’s full force. The first day features not one but two legendary mountains – the Col d’Aubisque and the Col du Tourmalet – followed by stage 14 from Sauveterre-de-Béarn to Larra-Belagua, which features four testing climbs, two of which are categorised as especial. After suffering the brute force of the Pyrenees, a hilly stage and a flat summit finish stage stand between the riders and their second rest day.
Back for the third and final week, stage 16 eases the riders back into the race with a fairly flat route – just a tasty 5km climb to tackle at the end. It makes for a nice warm up for stage 17, featuring the notorious Alto de L'Angliru, regarded as one of the hardest climbs in Europe.
There's not much time to recover after the Angliru ascent before the riders are back in the mountains again, with three category featuring on stage 18, including a summit finish.
A flat stage follows before an up and down day on a hilly circuit concludes the 2023 Vuelta's racing in earnest. After that, only the circuit stage finale in Madrid remains between the race leader and the top step of the podium.
Most Vuelta a España wins
- Four wins: Roberto Herras (Esp)
- Three wins: Tony Rominger (Sui), Alberto Contador (Esp), Primož Roglič (Slo)
- Two wins: Gustaaf Deloor (Bel), Julián Berrendero (Esp), José Manuel Fuente (Esp), Bernard Hinault (Fra), Pedro Delgado (Esp), Alex Zülle (Sui), Chris Froome (GBr)
Recent Vuelta a España winners
- 2022: Remco Evenepoel (Bel)
- 2021: Primož Roglič (Slo)
- 2020: Primož Roglič (Slo)
- 2019: Primož Roglič (Slo)
- 2018: Simon Yates (GBr)
- 2017: Chris Froome (GBr)
- 2016: Nairo Quintana (Col)
- 2015: Fabio Aru (Ita)
- 2014: Alberto Contador (Esp)
- 2013: Chris Horner (USA)
- 2012: Alberto Contador (Esp)
- 2011: Chris Froome (GBr)
- 2010: Vincenzo Nibali (Ita)
- 2009: Alejandro Valverde (Esp)
- 2008: Alberto Contador (Esp)
- 2007: Denis Menchov (Rus)
- 2006 Aleksandr Vinokourov (Kaz)
- 2005: Roberto Herras (Esp)
- 2004: Roberto Herras (Esp)
- 2003: Roberto Herras (Esp)