Beginner’s Guide to the Vuelta a España 2023: Everything You Need To Know

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Each year, amidst the backdrop of Spain’s breathtaking landscapes, the world’s elite cyclists gather to test their mettle in one of the most grueling races on the racing calendar: The Vuelta a España.

Third in the trio of the Grand Tours, yet still often overlooked in favor of its older siblings, the Vuelta has always been the realm of unexpected twists, triumphant underdogs, and legendary rides.

Its history is as captivating as its mountain stages, filled with tales of struggle, victory, and sometimes even tragedy.

This year, the Vuelta a España 2023 promises another exhilarating chapter in its storied journey, with heart-pounding climbs, lightning-fast sprints, and strategies that can make or break a season. Ready for the ride?

We’ll be covering:

  • The Vuelta A España’s History
  • Records At The Vuelta
  • When Is The Vuelta A España 2023
  • Overview Of The Vuelta A España 2023 Route
  • Teams
  • Favorites For The Vuelta A España 2023
  • How To Watch The Vuelta A España 2023

Let’s dive in!

Beginner's Guide to the Vuelta a España 2023: Title Image
© Unipublic/Charly López. Edited from the original.

The Vuelta a España’s History

The Vuelta a España, meaning Tour of Spain in Spanish, is like the younger sibling in the Grand Tour family, coming to life in 1935. 

While the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia had already established themselves, Spain wanted to join the party. However, the early years weren’t smooth. The outbreak of the Spanish Civil War shortly after its inception meant the race had to be paused multiple times.

In the mid-50s, the Vuelta started to gain momentum and recognition, attracting bigger names. 

Jacques Anquetil, in 1963, lit up the race by becoming the first rider to clinch victories in all three Grand Tours. However, the race was not without its challenges.

1968 was a year of darkness when a terrorist attack by the Basque nationalist group, ETA, targeted the race.

The early years saw the Vuelta positioned in a calendar slot that made it challenging to attract top talent consistently. Often overshadowed by the Spring Classics and the Giro d’Italia due to its April schedule, a significant change came in 1995.

The race moved to the August-September slot, which transformed its stature overnight. Not only did it become a preparatory ground for the UCI Road World Championships, but it also began attracting a more competitive field.

Black and white photo of a group of cyclists at the Vuelta a Espana in the 1970s.

Records at the Vuelta

The Vuelta a España, like all Grand Tours, is more than just a race; it’s a stage where history is written, legacies are built, and records are shattered.

The Vuelta has seen champions that are now legends in the cycling world. Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault, and Sean Kelly are just a few names that have graced the roads of Spain.

In recent times, figures like Alberto Contador, Chris Froome, and Alejandro Valverde have become synonymous with the race.

Primož Roglič‘s hat-trick of wins from 2019 to 2021, followed by Remco Evenepoel‘s stellar performance in 2022, showcases the modern legends in the making.

Let’s explore some of the most impressive records and remarkable feats at the Vuelta:

Most Overall Wins

Roberto Heras holds the record with four overall victories (2000, 2003, 2004, 2005). His ability to dominate the mountains and maintain a steady pace in the time trials made him nearly unbeatable on home turf during his prime.

Consecutive Victories

Primož Roglič, with his three straight wins from 2019 to 2021, showcased a level of consistency that’s a rare feat in Grand Tours. This placed him among an elite group of riders to have achieved such a distinction.

Oldest and Youngest Winners

Chris Horner stunned the cycling world in 2013 when he won the Vuelta at the age of 41, making him the oldest Grand Tour winner in history.

In contrast, Angelino Soler claimed his victory in 1961 at the tender age of 21, setting the record for the youngest winner of the Vuelta.

Stage Wins in a Single Edition

The indomitable Freddy Maertens won a whopping 13 stages during the 1977 edition of the Vuelta. This remains one of the most dominant performances in Grand Tour history.

King of the Mountains

José Luis Laguía boasts a record five King of the Mountains titles at the Vuelta. His ability to consistently conquer the peaks of Spain made him a legend.

Points Classification

Sean Kelly, the Irish powerhouse, secured the green jersey (points classification) on four occasions (1980, 1985, 1986, 1988). His versatility, sprinting prowess, and tactical nous ensured he was regularly in contention for stage wins and points.

Remco Evenepoel celebrates becoming a Vuelta a España winner in 2022.
© Unipublic/Charly López

When Is The Vuelta A España 2023

La Vuelta a España 2023 is scheduled to take place from August 26 to September 17, 2023.

The race consists of 21 stages, covering a total distance of 3,154 km (1,959 miles).

This edition of the Vuelta will feature a diverse range of stages, including 4 flat stages, 2 flat stages with high-altitude finales, 6 hilly stages, 7 mountain stages, 1 team time-trial, and 1 individual time-trial stage. There are also two rest days included in the schedule.

Overview of the Vuelta a España 2023 Route

While the Vuelta a España 2023 is a cycling race, it’s also a beautiful canvas of Spain’s diverse landscapes and cultures. From the sun-kissed coasts to the steep, challenging mountain ranges, the race is as much a tour of Spain for the viewers as it is for the cyclists.

The Vuelta a España 2023 route has been touted as one of the most challenging and thrilling courses in recent memory.

The route seems to be tailored for climbers, with punishing ascents and very few opportunities for sprinters. From the steep grades of Xorret de Catí to the legendary climbs in the Pyrenees, it promises to be an enthralling three weeks of racing.

The combination of traditional mountain stages with unorthodox challenges ensures that this Vuelta a España 2023 will be unpredictable and demanding, a cyclist’s dream or possibly a nightmare, depending on their strengths and strategies.

Riders will have to be tactically sharp and physically resilient to survive this Vuelta a España 2023 and make it to Madrid for the final parade.

Here are some of the highlights:

Team Time Trial – Barcelona (Stage 1)

Kicking off in Barcelona with a 14.6 km team time trial, the stage features an uphill finish in Montjuic Park. It’s a tantalizing opener that sets the tone for the brutal climbs to come.

The Andorran Challenge (Stage 3)

On just the third day, riders face a hard mountain stage, with two back-to-back Category 1 climbs in Andorra. A strong signal that this Vuelta a España 2023 won’t be forgiving.

Observatory of Javalambre (Stage 6)

The steep Category 1 finish at the observatory tower could see gaps between the favorites, reminiscent of 2019 when López grabbed the red jersey here.

Sprinters’ Rare Opportunities (Stages 7, 12, 19, 21)

With only four flat stages, the sprinters will have minimal opportunities to shine. Crosswinds from the Balearic coast on Stage 7 and exposed roads in Zaragoza on Stage 12 could add extra challenges.

Punishing Climbs (Stage 8)

Constant undulations in Alicante and a final test on the 20% slopes of Xorret de Catí make Stage 8 arguably the toughest of the first week.

Time Trial (Stages 10)

A 25 km individual time trial in Valladolid offers a platform for specialists but likely won’t be as decisive in shaping the race as in previous years.

The French Invasion (Stage 13)

The Pyrenees will host a brutal stage with famous climbs like the Col du Tourmalet and Col d’Aubisque.

Short but Cruel (Stages 16, 17)

Stages 16 and 17 offer shorter distances but intense challenges. The notorious Alto de l’Angliru in Stage 17, regarded as one of Europe’s hardest climbs, is expected to play a significant role in the GC battle.

The Unknown Challenge (Stage 18)

The new Category 1 climb of Cruz de Linares is the last mountain-top finish and may provide a late twist in the GC race.

Unorthodox Penultimate Stage (Stage 20)

The longest stage of the race, at 208km, featuring no less than ten climbs, could cause chaos and potentially change the outcome of the race.

Tadej Pogacar pumps his fist in celebration after beating Primoz Roglic at the 2019 Vuelta.
© PhotoGomezSport/Antonio Baixauli

Vuelta a España 2023 Teams

A total of 22 teams are expected to participate. All 18 UCI WorldTeams have secured their spots and are automatically invited.

Additionally, 4 UCI ProTeams will join the race. The inclusion of the UCI ProTeams consists of the top two from 2022, which are Lotto–Dstny and Team TotalEnergies, and two teams, Burgos BH and Caja Rural–Seguros RGA, specially chosen by the event organizers.

The team lineup was officially announced on 8 March 2023.

UCI WorldTeams

  • AG2R Citroën Team
  • Alpecin–Deceuninck
  • Arkéa–Samsic
  • Astana Qazaqstan Team
  • Bora–Hansgrohe
  • Cofidis
  • EF Education–EasyPost
  • Groupama–FDJ
  • Ineos Grenadiers
  • Intermarché–Circus–Wanty
  • Lidl–Trek
  • Movistar Team
  • Soudal–Quick-Step
  • Team Bahrain Victorious
  • Team DSM–Firmenich
  • Team Jayco–AlUla
  • Team Jumbo–Visma
  • UAE Team Emirates

UCI ProTeams

  • Burgos BH
  • Caja Rural–Seguros RGA
  • Lotto–Dstny
  • Team TotalEnergies

See also: Vuelta a España 2023 Start List: Teams + Riders In Full

Favorites for the Vuelta a España 2023

Based on the list of contenders and the nature of this year’s route, cycling enthusiasts are expecting nothing less than a spectacle. Here’s a closer look at the race’s frontrunners:

Remco Evenepoel

Remco Evenepoel celebrates winning the 2022 Vuelta a España.
© Unipublic/Charly López. Edited from the original.

Remco Evenepoel, from Belgium, made a notable transition from soccer to cycling in 2017.

Within a year, he grabbed junior titles at the UCI Road World Championships and was absorbed into the Deceuninck–Quick-Step team.

By 2019, Evenepoel was already winning races such as the Vuelta a San Juan, Tour of Belgium, European Championships time trial, and Clásica de San Sebastián.

A setback occurred in 2020 with a crash at Il Lombardia, but he rebounded with a dominant performance in 2022, clinching victories like Liège-Bastogne-Liège and the Vuelta a España.

He also secured wins at the UCI Road World Championships, both in the road race (2022) and the time trial (2023), solidifying his position as a top-tier cyclist.

Primož Roglič

Primož Roglič smiling before a stage at the 2022 Tour de France in his Jumbo-Visma jersey.
© A.S.O./Aurelien Valiatte

Primož Roglič, Slovenia, began his athletic career in ski jumping but shifted to cycling following an accident.

His transition occurred in 2012, with his ski jumping background, including a significant fall in 2007, playing a pivotal role in building his core strength which aided his swift rise in cycling. 

Some of Roglič’s commendable achievements in cycling include victories in Grand Tours such as the Vuelta a España and Giro d’Italia. He has also clinched an Olympic gold medal in the time trial.

Over his career, he held the no. 1 spot in the UCI men’s road rankings for an impressive 75 weeks and secured two year-end no. 1 titles.

Roglič’s successes extend from stage wins in eminent races like the 2019 Vuelta a España, making him the first Slovenian to clinch a Grand Tour, to victories in Paris-Nice, Tirreno-Adriatico, Critérium du Dauphiné, Tour of the Basque Country, Milano-Torino, and Liège-Bastogne-Liège.

Jonas Vingegaard

Vingegaard taking victory in Stage 5 of the Tour de France 2022 in his Jumbo-Visma jersey.
© A.S.O./Billy Ceusters

Jonas Vingegaard achieved significant recognition by winning the Tour de France in both 2022 and 2023 while riding for Team Jumbo-Visma.

He started his career working in a fish factory while simultaneously pursuing cycling. His early years in the sport saw him participating with local clubs and transitioning to a professional stance with ColoQuick-Cult in 2016.

Vingegaard’s progression in the cycling realm is marked by resilience and remarkable performances. Despite a femur injury in 2017, he made an impressive comeback, joining Jumbo-Visma’s World Tour team thereafter.

Some of his major achievements include stage wins at the Tour de Pologne and playing a pivotal role in supporting Primož Roglič during challenging mountain stages.

His prowess was further evident in 2021 when he secured a standout win at the UAE Tour summit finish and displayed significant skills during the Tour de France, particularly with a notable attack on Mont Ventoux.

Vingegaard’s consistent performances built a solid foundation for his 2022 triumphs. In that year, he notably won the Drôme Classic title, dominated the Critérium du Dauphiné, and played an instrumental role alongside Roglic in targeting Tadej Pogacar during the Tour de France.

Geraint Thomas

Geraint Thomas rides at the 2020 Tour de France.
© A.S.O./ Fabien Boukla

Geraint Thomas is a Welsh cyclist known for his prowess in both road and track disciplines.

Beginning his journey with junior titles, he joined the British Olympic Academy and played a key role in winning world titles and an Olympic gold in team pursuit for the British team.

As he transitioned to road cycling with Sky Pro Cycling, Thomas secured national championships, excelled in the Commonwealth Games, and made history in 2018 by becoming the first Welshman to win the Tour de France.

His versatility is further highlighted through achievements like the victory at Alpe d’Huez in the coveted yellow jersey and leading roles in Grand Tours like the Giro d’Italia, representing the Ineos Grenadiers team.

Richard Carapaz

Carapaz celebrating a stage win in a blue polka-dot jersey.
© Unipublic/Sprint Cycling Agency

Richard Carapaz, commonly referred to as “La Locomotora” and “El Jaguar de Tulcan”, Ecuador, began his journey in cycling under the mentorship of Olympic cyclist Juan Carlos Rosero.

Carapaz first garnered attention with his performances for the Movistar Team, winning the Vuelta a Asturias and a stage in the Giro d’Italia. The pinnacle of his career came in 2019 when he won the Giro d’Italia, becoming the first Ecuadorian ever to achieve this feat. 

By 2020, he had moved to Team Ineos, where he won a stage in the Tour de Pologne and achieved notable rankings in both the Tour de France and Vuelta a España. The following year, he clinched victory in the Tour de Suisse and secured third place in the Tour de France.

Additionally, Carapaz secured an Olympic gold medal in the road race at the 2021 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

Despite facing setbacks in 2022, including crashes and COVID-19, Carapaz persevered and claimed victory in the Ecuadorian National Time Trial Championship and a stage in the Volta a Catalunya.

For the 2023 season, he transferred to EF Education–EasyPost.

Juan Ayuso

Juan Ayuso is a talented Spanish road cyclist, currently riding for UAE Team Emirates, having joined in August 2021 from Team Colpack-Ballan on a five-year contract.

Born on September 16, 2002, in Barcelona, Ayuso’s passion for cycling became evident early on, marked by impressive wins as a cadet in 2017, including the Spanish road and time trial championships and the Tour of Portugal title in the same year.

Ayuso’s commendable achievements include winning the National Junior Road Championships, the Spanish time trial championship, Tour de l’Ain’s queen stage, junior Spanish Nationals victories in 2020, and stages in several other races.

A major highlight of his career was winning the U23 Giro d’Italia. His debut in the Vuelta a España led to a podium finish in 2022, securing a third place in Madrid.

In 2023, he claimed a stage in the Tour de Romandie, secured second place in the Tour de Suisse, and achieved podium finishes in numerous races.

Remco Evenepoel rides arm in arm with his fellow leaders after winning the 2022 Vuelta.
© Unipublic/Sprint Cycling Agency

How to watch the Vuelta a España 2023

The Vuelta a España 2023 cycling race can be watched on different channels and streaming platforms based on viewers’ locations:

  • USA: NBC Sports offers live coverage on TV and streaming via and the NBC Sports Gold app, featuring commentators Phil Liggett, Bob Roll, Steve Porino, and Christian Vande Velde.
  • Australia: SBS broadcasts the race on SBS On Demand with commentators Matthew Keenan, Dr. Bridie O’Donnell, and Simon Gerrans.
  • Canada: is the platform for Canadian cycling fans, featuring commentators Anthony McCrossan and Nicolas Roche.
  • Europe & UK: Eurosport and GCN collaborate to provide coverage on traditional TV and the Eurosport Player digital platform. Commentators include Sean Kelly, Rob Hatch, Declan Quigley, Dan Lloyd, Adam Blythe, and Robbie McEwen.
  • Spain: RTVE broadcasts the Vuelta a España 2023 on La 1, Teledeporte, and RTVE Play, with commentators Carlos de Andrés and Perico Delgado, both former cyclists.

Each commentator brings their own expertise and insights to enhance the viewer’s experience of the race, sharing strategies, historical context, and personal anecdotes.

The broadcasters cater to their respective regions, offering localized commentary and in-depth coverage.

The Vuelta a España 2023 promises a thrilling race, a true test of grit, strategy, and athleticism.

Who are you placing your bets on? Are you team Evenepoel, or are you rooting for the Jumbo-Visma power duo of Roglic and Vingegaard?

The mountains, time trials, and finish lines may tell one story, but it’s the passion of the fans that brings this race to life.

Drop a comment below with your personal predictions, favorite riders, and thoughts on this iconic battle!

Photo of author
Quentin's background in bike racing runs deep. In his youth, he won the prestigious junior Roc d'Azur MTB race before representing Belgium at the U17 European Championships in Graz, Austria. Shifting to road racing, he then competed in some of the biggest races on the junior calendar, including Gent-Wevelgem and the Tour of Flanders, before stepping up to race Liège-Bastogne-Liège and Paris-Roubaix as an U23. With a breakthrough into the cut-throat environment of professional racing just out of reach, Quentin decided to shift his focus to embrace bike racing as a passion rather than a career. Now writing for BikeTips, Quentin's experience provides invaluable insight into performance cycling - though he's always ready to embrace the fun side of the sport he loves too and share his passion with others.

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