Tadej Pogačar Smashes Everyone on Day One | Vuelta a Andalucia Stage 1 2023

Baeza – Spain – cycling – Tadej Pogacar (SLO – UAE Team Emirates) pictured during JaŽn Paraiso Interior 2023 – 2nd edition – Úbeda – Baeza 178,9 km – 13/02/2023 – Photo: Luis Angel Gomez/SCA/Cor Vos © 2023

Tadej Pogačar continued his winning streak at Vuelta a Andalucia Stage 1, winning it solo after attacking the final climb. It was the fourth consecutive win for the UAE Emirates superstar who previously won Tre Valli Varesine, Il Lombardia and Jaén Paraiso Interior.

Vuelta a Andalucia Ruta Ciclista Del Sol Stage 1 2023 profile by La Flamme Rouge

The route included almost 4000 metres of elevation, which is a lot for this time of the year, especially over 178 kilometres. The final climb was Alto de Despiernacaballos (the climb of woken horses) with the steeper section being 7.8 km at 7.06% gradient. The final three kilometres were shallow and under 4% but the crest was 7.6 km from the finish with a shallow descent after it.

Matej Mohorič before the decisive climb spent 4080 kilojoules for 4:33h, which is a hard effort with 12.43 kj/kg/h (using Mohorič’s Strava input weight of 72 kg). UAE-Emirates were pacing the final climb for Pogačar with Tim Wellens, the Belgian recruit even creating a gap at one moment to his back wheel. Rafal Majka and George Bennett were also in the mountain train, both of whom rode as domestiques in UAE’s 2022 Tour de France squad. This firepower from UAE served to shred the group.

Tim Wellens getting a gap at the start of the climb

It was obvious Pogačar would attack, everyone knew what would happen, just like when UAE paced in Il Lombardia. The Slovene accelerated with 12.4 km to go and immediately distanced his rivals, getting a small gap. Santiago Buitrago, after a solid performance at Saudi Tour, was strong enough to catch Pogačar but the Colombian was a few moments later dropped as the double Tour de France winner accelerated again.

Pogačar attacks, Buitrago trying to close the gap

Pogačar climbed Despiernacaballos in 19 minutes and 25 seconds, doing an estimated 6.33 ᵉw/kg. The pace before the attack was not too high and the stage before Despiernacaballos already was more than 4 hours and 30 minutes long and hard with countless mountains. Pogačar was faster than his closest rivals in the second group, Buitrago, Mas, Rodriguez and Landa, by 37 seconds. Pavel Sivakov, Jeffereson Cepeda and Tao Geoghegan Hart who did an impressive performance a week ago in Valenciana were in the third group.

Pogačar basically held his gap stable in the descent and rolling terrain to the finish, winning with a 38-second lead over the chasing group. This was another impressive performance for Pogačar, who always is very consistent and ready to perform at a good level at the start of the season. There are four stages left in Vuelta a Andalucia, but with this being the Queen stage and his dominance over the competition, the general classification looks to already be over. If he truly wants, Pogačar might win the four remaining stages like completing a side quest in a video game.

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Pogačar’s climbing performance is very close to the green Grand Tour Top 10 trend-line. His overall w/kg for the duration of time might have been more impressive if there was included the shallow three kilometres in our estimations but it is difficult to calculate w/kg on a 1-3% gradient. This also was not a hill-top finish, with Pogačar needing to ride hard on the shallow descent, pushing descent watts alone without the drafting effect that the group had behind.

As mentioned previously, the stage according to Mohorič's Strava data was hard and long. With huge fatigue and easy pacing at the start of the climb, it is no surprise that Pogačar was able to create such a gap on a 20 minute climb once he burst from the group. In stark contrast was today's Queen stage of the 2023 Tour of Oman, where everything was perfect for high w/kg performances except for perhaps the hot conditions.

Kārlis Ozols (@CyclingGraphs)

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