Start location: Valladolid
Finish location: Valladolid
Start time: 13:57 CEST
Finish time (approx): 17:30 CEST
The start of the second week sees the Vuelta a España arrives at Castille y León, following a long transfer north spanning some 600km. This is the largest of the fifteen autonomous communities that make up mainland Spain, and almost smack bang in the middle of it is Valladolid, the city which hosts stage 10's out-and-back time trial. It’s the capital and biggest city of the region, and also its industrial heart, with a thriving automotive sector.
It’s better known for its industry now, and not especially noted for its tourist hotspots, but Valladolid was one of the most historically significant places during Spain’s golden age. During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries Spain was perhaps the leading country in the world in terms of political power, culture, and imperialism, and emblems of that time can be found in Valladolid. Between 1601 and 1606 this was the capital of Hapsburg, and two of the dynasty's most famous kings, Philip II and Philip IV, were born in the town’s royal palaces; Don Quixote writer Miguel de Cervantes lived here, and his house has now been turned into a museum; and Christopher Columbus died and was buried here, to whom a monument now stands.
Stage 10 profile sourced via the Vuelta website
Valladolid also has a rich history at the Vuelta a España, particularly in regard to time trials. It hosted the prologue in 1994, when Tony Rominger won before going on to complete the historic feat of holding the overall lead for the entire race, while Pedro Delgado defended his slender lead on general classification over Fabio Parra by winning the climactic time trial here in 1989. Today, it hosts what will be the only time trial of the 2023 edition, which, just 25.8km long, is even shorter than the sole individual time trial of last year’s race (a 30.9 stage in Alicante); and even that was supplemented by an opening day team time trial.
Defending champion Remco Evenepoel is surely one of the GC contenders lamenting this weighting against time trialists like himself, but he demonstrated last year the damage a specialist can do in just a handful of kilometres. He extended his already significant lead on GC by winning the stage, gaining 48 seconds on fellow specialist and Olympic time trial champion Primož Roglič, and more than doubling his advantage over Enric Mas by an extra 1:51. Considering that Evenepoel’s eventual winning margin was an only fractionally higher 2:02, this stage could turn out to be the one that ultimately determines the fate of the red jersey.
And despite its length, the terrain here around Valladolid will help the likes of Evenepoel in their attempts to maximise time gaps. Save for a short 600m rise early on, it’s virtually entirely flat, and takes place over long, wide roads with few corners to negotiate. Thus there will be plenty of time for the specialist to rev up their engines and pile the pressure on in their aero tucks, and by contrast no place for the more awkward non-specialists to hide. If any of the top contenders have proven to be evenly matched on the climbs, this could be the stage to separate them.
Freshly-crowned world time trial champion Remco Evenepoel sits as one of the hot favourites for stage 10 of the 2023 Vuelta a España. The Belgian rider thrives in the race against the clock and will be looking at today’s stage as a chance to win back time on some of his key GC rivals. There are multiple obstacles in the way of the Soudal-Quick-Step rider and a stage win, however, two of the key ones being the Jumbo-Visma duo of Jonas Vingegaard and Primož Roglič.
Roglič is the current Olympic time trial champion, however, this pan-flat time trial may not give the Slovenian rider the terrain he needs to excel – he would prefer a climb to make the difference. Evenepoel has historically been faster than Roglič in time trials (he put 48 seconds into him in last year’s Vuelta ITT and also bested him in the two Giro ITTs that they went up against each other in last May.) However, Roglič has clearly been on form so far in this race and should not be counted out for a stage win. Tour de France winner Vingegaard is another one to watch, though this flat time trial is similarly not as suited to the Danish rider as the one he faced in France a few months ago.
Filippo Ganna of Ineos Grenadiers is a rider who could grasp a stage win today out from under the GC favourites. The Italian rider is a two-time ITT world champion and has the perfect physical attributes to power over flat terrain. Ganna has the chance to save what has been a disappointing Vuelta for Ineos so far. Also of Ineos Grenadiers, Geraint Thomas is expected to perform well in this stage – the British rider is an experienced time trialist who is in desperate need of getting time back on GC where he can.
Mattia Cattaneo of Soudal-Quick-Step also has a track record of performing well in time trials – the Italian rider won the ITT in the Tour of Poland just a few weeks ago and will hope for another strong performance today. Jan Tratnik (Jumbo-Visma) is another rider to watch outside of the GC favourites – he’s a four-time Slovenian ITT champion.
Aside from the likes of Evenepoel, Roglič and Vingegaard, there are other key GC contenders who will need to perform well today to better their positions overall. João Almeida and Juan Ayuso, both of UAE Team Emirates sit at the forefront of these – both riders form part of the team’s multi-pronged approach to the Vuelta this year.
We're expecting Remco Evenepoel to take the victory in his rainbow stripes in this stage and take time on his GC rivals as a result.