Vuelta CV Feminas 2023 Race Preview

Vuelta CV Feminas History

The Vuelta CV Feminas was the UCI season-opener in 2022 but with the return of the Australian calendar, we’ve already caught a glimpse of riders before heading to the Spanish coast. Indeed, in 2023 it’s not even the first Spanish race of the year after the Women Cycling Pro Costa de Almeria last weekend. The Vuelta CV Feminas has always come down to a sprint of at least 30 riders in the 4 editions it has been hosted. Italian sprinters in particular seem to do well with 3 of the 4 victories. Only Lotte Kopecky in the opening edition in 2019 bucks that trend. Despite the presence of climbs in the middle of the parcours, there is enough distance between them and the sprint back in the city of Valencia for regrouping to happen.

The race organiser has put in a tougher test for 2023’s race with the Alto Frontera, 5km at 9.2% providing a really tough second climb in the race. The Alto de l’Oronet opening climb will be familiar to the riders and is a nicer 8.3km at 3.7% leg tester. There is still around 40km from the initial summit of the Alto Frontera however to the finish. So although cracks are guaranteed to open, it’s going to have to be the right decent sized group to be able to hold off the chasers. I’m currently torn as to how big the front group will be – we could see 20 or more in there for the sprint after a good 40km chase, it could be less than 10 however.

Previous Winners

2022
Marta Bastianelli
2021
Chiara Consonni
2020
Marta Bastianelli

Vuelta CV Feminas 2023 Profile

TV Coverage

Sunday 5th February 2023

Live on Eurosport/GCN
9:45-10:45am GMT

Twitter: #VCVFeminas2023

Startlist: FirstCycling

Vuelta CV Feminas 2023 Contenders

Liane Lippert and Floortje Mackaij will both be racing for their new team Movistar for the first time at the Vuelta CV Feminas 2023. The second climb has Lippert written all over it and if it was nearer the finish, she would be a proper contender outright. The doubts lie in being able to work out if a group of climbers can stay away for that long. The balance will swing to that group if someone like Floortje Mackaij can also get over the climb near the front. The Dutch rider has a huge engine and we’ve seen before in races like the 2020 Brabantse Pijl what a 2-up effort from Lippert and Mackaij can do together, let alone in a small bunch. Lippert is a favourite but her full chances of a win won’t become clear until late on in the racing.

Tamara Dronova will lead the Israel-Premier Tech Roland team and is enough of an all-rounder to genuinely threaten the likes of Liane Lippert. Despite her surprisingly strong 2022 season, Dronova didn’t manage to win a race although she will receive more team support this year. On paper though, she’s one of the few riders at the Vuelta CV Feminas who can climb well but also have a sprint. A 6th place finish last weekend at the sprintier Costa De Almería shows some good early season form.

The team that used to be known as Valcar has morphed into the UAE Development Team and we get to see it race for the first time at the Vuelta CV Feminas. Erica Magnaldi has been loaned from the main team and last year’s 8th place GC finisher in the GIro Donne shouldn’t have an issue on the serious climb. Her sprint isn’t amazing so it will need to be a very small group for a top-5 placing. Yuliia Biriukova joined the team from Arkea and the Ukrainian can be a solid climber in non-WWT races. Presumably she will support Magnaldi but is useful option as well. 

This feels like it could be a Veronica Ewers type race, provided the front group isn’t caught for a sprint finish. She’s got a mid to low-tier sprint when it comes to the climbers and would need to rely on a cheeky little dig near the finish for a gap like her victory at Festival Elsy Jacobs. In this field, Ewers is going to be one of the strongest climbers. The team has Alison Jackson to fall back on if it does come down to something like a sprint. Like many on this list, it’s going to be a long few kilometres of chasing to get back in after the climb though. Letizia Borghesi could be the rider somewhere between the two. The Italian has the kick and a little bit more resistance to the hills. I expect to see her chasing on as well.

In some ways it’s kinda tough to leave out Arianna Fidanza after her win at Women Cycling Pro Costa De Almeria, although my instinct says the Italian is likely to be in the chasing group. Out of the Ceratizit WNT riders, Sandra Alonso feels like the best placed to be in the action at the finale. She was 5th after leading out Fidanza last weekend and she’s certainly been able to contest sprints in races with tough climbs in the past. There’s a chance it works out for Marta Lach as well who secured her first Women’s WorldTour at the end of 2022 in the Tour de Romandie. She’s normally a strong rolling terrain type sprinter who may be able to get over the climb nearish the front as well.

We’ll get to see Clara Koppenburg racing for the first time since her crash at last year’s Giro Donne. The German climber was looking good in that race but got into trouble on a descent for the second season in a row. Hopefully fully recovered, this steep long climb is surely in her wheelhouse and maybe we see her cresting the climb in the front group. Her weakness though on flatter sections might get exposed by the 40km race to the finish from the climb. Unless the front group is very small, a top-10 rather than anything more might be realistic to expect.

Audrey Cordon-Ragot finished an excellent 3rd place in her first race for Zaaf Cycling at the Women Cycling Pro Costa de Almeria. I can’t see her making it over the top of the climb with the front of the race but she’s going to be a useful engine for the chasing group to use to get back to the front. Her teammate Nikola Noskova had a great return to form in Australia with 14th place in both the GC at the Tour Down Under and the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race. Finishing speed will probably let her down but she’s the Zaaf rider I can see going over the top near the front. A special mention to Heidi Franz who did an 80km solo break at Almeria and still finished 10th. That is surely an indicator of some good form for the American.

Uno-X’s Susanne Andersen will look to try and repeat her result here from last year. The Norwegian finished in 4th place and looked set for a strong season with that opening finish. Even with the climbs introduced, her classics background should make her one of the sprinters in a decent position to be able to make the front group of the race. We might see her distanced initially but have enough to get back up there over the 40km of chasing. I assume that Uno-X will be working primarily for Susanne Andersen here but her new teammate Anouska Koster is also a decent shout. The Dutch rider has joined Uno-X this season and is a decent climber for this sort of race. Maybe not major GC level but against this field, Koster could be up there. Like many others here, if she’s the sole rider for Uno-X in the front group, she will get the shout but it really depends on where Andersen is as to whether Koster can get her own result.

This time last week I might’ve included them as outsiders but Yurani Blanco Calbert and Eider Merino did a great job between them at the Women Cycling Pro Costa De Almería – with Blanco Calbert 8th and Merino 13th. It’s a case of 1A and 1B between the two Laboral Kutxa riders with Blanco Calbert the better sprinter and Merino the better climber. An in-form Eider Merino should be able to go with the front of the race on the steep climb whereas I sort of expect Blanco Calbert to form part of any chase group that tries to reach the front of the race again by the finish. Blanco Calbert took a top-10 in another hilly race in last year’s Vuelta a Andalucia Ruta Del Sol, which saw Alenis Sierra win ahead of Mavi Garcia.

Vuelta CV Feminas 2023 Outsiders

Olha Kulynych
Olha Kulynych

Massi-Tactic has acquired a pair of strong climbers for 2023. The Canadian Adele Norman finished 4th in last year’s Alpes Gresivaudan Classic, only a few seconds behind the likes of Evita Muzic, Eglantine Rayer and Clara Koppenburg. That’s pure climber territory to be in and she could be up there on the serious climb in this year’s Vuelta CV Feminas. Her teammate Cécile Lejeune was 15th at the Mont Ventoux Challenge, ahead of some names like Rachel Neylan and Neve Bradbury as well. Between the pair, we could see one of the yellow/orange Massi-Tactic riders in the front group on Sunday.

The Duolar-Chevalmeire pair of Malin Eriksen and Olha Kulynych are decent long-shot outsiders to do well here. Eriksen is the closer to being having a sprinter type kick for the finish and whilst the Norwegian tends to get her best results in flatter races, her 8th place on a hilly stage of the Tour de l’Ardeche last season is what any hopes here are pinned on. The climb here will be tougher however. Olha Kulynych was 13th at the Alpes Gresivaudan Classic last year which was a solid result on a brutal race. She did finish 11 minutes behind the winner Evita Muzic but on a day where many finished out outside of the time limit or a further 30 minutes behind the Ukrainian, it’s a decent result still.

Top 3 Prediction

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