La Vuelta starts in Barcelona: a couple to dominate the world

Pink in Rome, yellow in Paris and red in Madrid.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
25 August 2023 Friday 10:23
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La Vuelta starts in Barcelona: a couple to dominate the world

Pink in Rome, yellow in Paris and red in Madrid. The Giro, the Tour and the Vuelta in the same year. Take over the big three in four and a half months. Dominate the calendar from foot to foot. Conquer the cycling world. That is the challenge he has in mind, but especially in his legs, the Jumbo-Visma, the Dutch team, which intends to leave only the crumbs for the rest.

No team has ever managed to make the full in the same year. Neither the US Postal nor the Sky did it in the days when they tyrannized the peloton. Further back, teams with multi-stars weren't taken because the bosses couldn't stand being shadowed in their own home.

Jumbo plans like no one else, detects talent carefully, hires top-class team members and invests in its leaders. He is ambitious and, best of all, he has managed to create a climate of coexistence and cohabitation for Jonas Vingegaard and Primoz Roglic, the duo with whom he wants to dominate the planet.

One month and two days after climbing to the top of the Champs-Élysées podium, Vingegaard, the most complete cyclist today, appears at the start of today's team time trial in the streets and neighborhoods of Barcelona, with the intention of transcending. At 26 years old and after winning the last two Tours, the Dane believes that he is ready to double his efforts and go for a double that has not been achieved since Froome in 2017.

A great climber, as he taught at Col de la Loze or at Marie Blanque in July, the Vuelta route fits him perfectly. Up to nine hilltop finishes will have the cyclists who make the difference when the road gets steep, plus another three (Montjuïc, Xorret de Catí and Guadarrama) in which the finish line is shortly after crowning a mountain pass.

The mountain starts on Monday in Andorra. The Pyrenees, Vingegaard territory, have a lot to say, as they will return there in the second week with two days of high-altitude cycling: finals in Tourmalet, after climbing Aubisque and Spandelles, and in Belagua, after crowning Hourcère and Larrau.

Next to the Dane, neither in front nor behind, will be Roglic. A bicephaly that in 2022 already served to exhaust and make Pogacar dizzy, as now they want to do with Remco Evenepoel, defending champion. "It's not the first time we've done it. We are not going to race against each other, but together, among ourselves”, explains Vingegaard. Both are used to sharing a lineup. In fact, in the 2021 Itzulia and in the 2022 Dauphiné they already did first and second.

Roglic favors single-port stages, such as those that end in Javalambre, La Laguna Negra and Bejes. "Roglic is the most regular of the year," Evenepoel defines him, since the 33-year-old Slovenian has won all the races he has participated in this 2023: Tirreno, Volta a Catalunya, the Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a Burgos.

It is the Belgian from Soudal (23), very explosive, who best adapts to the impossible ramps of Collado de la Cruz de Caravaca, Anglirú and La Cruz de Linares. Recent time trial world champion, Evenepoel relies on the 25 km of goat and lenticular in Valladolid, without forgetting the blows from Vingegaard (to Pogacar) and Roglic (to Thomas) in the modality.

Jumbo is looking for a hat-trick that Pogacar's UAE could have done. But the Slovenian crashed for the second time with Vingegaard while João Almeida made his debut on the podium, third, in the pink corsa. Now it will be Juan Ayuso, 20, who will fight -he wants to debut with a stage- against more seasoned rivals. Barcelona has the first word.