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Wednesday, February 1, 2023

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Cycling: Vuelta at the start, Roglic on the hunt for poker

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The Slovenian Primoz Roglic can make history in the Vuelta which will start tomorrow from Utrecht, in the Netherlands, becoming the first cyclist to win the Tour of Spain four consecutive times, while for the Spanish veteran Alejandro Valverde it will be the last Vuelta. Long uncertain after retiring from the Tour de France, on Monday the Slovenian reassured the public by confirming his participation in the Vuelta with the Jumbo-Visma. However, the form of the reigning three-time champion is uncertain after a month and a half without competitions. “Obviously he will not have the best preparation,” admitted his sporting director, Merjin Zeeman. In the event of a final victory in Madrid on September 11, Roglic would equal the record of Spaniard Roberto Heras, winner in 2000, 2003, 2004 and 2005. To aim for poker Roglic will be surrounded by solid teammates, as in the last Tour de France, in particular with the American Sepp Kuss. In this Vuelta, Jonas Vingegaard and Tadej Pogacar are absent, Roglic’s main opponents may be the British Simon Yates (BikeExchange), the Spaniards Enric Mas (Movistar) and Mikel Landa (Bahrain Victorious), the Ecuadorian Richard Carapaz (Ineos) or the young Belgian Remco Evenepoel (Quick Step). Not to be underestimated is the Australian Jai Hindley (Bora) who will attempt the double Giro d’Italia-Vuelta, while the world champion Julian Alaphilippe, especially in the service of Evenepoel, will aim for the stage victory. There will be five winners of the Spanish stage race present at the start: in addition to Roglic himself, Vincenzo Nibali, Chris Froome, the Spanish Alejandro Valverde and Simon Yates, as well as British Froome.
The route of this 77th edition will give the climbers the place of honor, with only six flat stages in 21 days of competitions and the discovery of many new passes. But also the time trial specialists will have the opportunity to express themselves, with in particular a team time trial from the first stage of tomorrow and an individual time trial during the 10th stage.
Two years after missing the Vuelta appointment due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Holland will finally host the first three stages. And Utrecht will become the first city in the world to have hosted the start of the three Grand Tours (Italy 2010, France 2015 and then Spain 2022). The group will then join the Basque Country in Bilbao, which will kick off the Tour de France 2023.
In total, eight stages promise spectacular high altitude arrivals. Among them, a daunting 15 °, with 4000 meters of altitude in the Sierra Nevada, in Andalusia. A path well known to Alejandro Valverde, who climbed it in the 2017 edition.
At 42, the Spanish veteran of the world circuit will compete in his last Vuekta, then at the end of the season he will end his 21-year career. The 2018 world champion skipped the Tour de France in July to prepare for the Vuelta.
Nairo Quintana, winner in 2016, will not be present at the start in Utrecht. Disqualified from the Tour on Wednesday for “medical offense”, the Colombian announced that he will not be at the start in Utrecht, explaining that he does not have “the head or the body for the competition. I will not participate in the Vuelta to assert my reasons before the Arbitral Tribunal of the Sport, I will return to the race calendar at the end of the season “, the Colombian said in a note. Quintana has made it known to give up the Vuelta to focus on defending against the accusation of hiring Tramadol during the Tour de France.
It will be a varied and ambitious Italy at the start of the Vuelta.
From Vincenzo Nibali to Domenico Pozzovivo, in total, 14 blues are involved.

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Source: Ansa

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