Top 10 Climbers for the 2023 Season

20/07/2022 – Tour de France 2022 – Etape 17 – Saint-Gaudens / Peyragudes (129,7km) – VINGEGAARD Jonas (JUMBO – VISMA) et POGACAR Tadej (UAE TEAM EMIRATES)

The 2022 cycling season was full of top level climbing performances with many records broken and new climbers bursting onto the scene. The list of Top 10 climbing performances of 2022 was dominated by Evenepoel and Vingegaard but will the same riders dominate the long ascents in 2023?

In this piece I will present my opinion on who the 10 best climbers are going to be in the 2023 season. Keep in mind that while their previous climbing performances obviously play a large role in this ranking, career trajectory, recent improvements and age are also factored into the predicted improvement or decline of riders.

10. Geraint Thomas

Foix – France – cycling – Geraint Thomas (GBR / Team INEOS Grenadiers) pictured during 109th Tour de France (2.UWT) stage 16 Carcassonne > Foix (179KM) – Photo: Dion Kerckhoffs/Cor Vos © 2022

Best Performance: Alpe d’Huez: 39’12min at 6,08ᵉw/kg (2022)
United Kingdom
INEOS Grenadiers

Geraint Thomas had a successful re-emergence as an elite Grand Tour specialist in 2022, winning the Tour de Suisse and finishing on the podium of the Tour de France for the third time in his career. Thomas’ consistent power output during last year’s Tour, which was comparable to, if not higher than, his winning performance in 2018, makes him one of the top contenders for the Giro d’Italia – his main target this year.

Thomas’ impressive performance included a new personal best on Alpe d’Huez, where he improved his previous time from 2018 by two minutes.

At 36 years old, the Welshman’s motivation to make sacrifices will greatly impact his climbing ability in what could be his final season as a professional. The strong lineup for the Giro, which includes Remco Evenepoel, Jay Vine, and Primoz Roglic, means that Thomas will need to be in the top shape of his career to have any chance of winning the Maglia Rosa.

9. Cian Uijtdebroeks

Huy – Belgium- cycling – Cian Uijtdebroeks of Bora – HansGrohe pictured during 43rd Ethias-Tour de Wallonie (2.Pro) stage 1 – Temploux > Huy (174.4km – Photo: Xavier Piron/PN/Cor Vos © 2022

Best Performance: Longchamp: 41’15min at 5,88ᵉw/kg (2022)
Bora Hansgrohe

It may be surprising to some that a 19-year-old is this high on the list, but Cian Uijtdebroeks’ consistent success in Junior and under-23 races has made it likely that he will have a breakout performance in the professional scene this calendar year.

What really set him apart and showcased his potential as a generational talent was his performance in the Tour de l’Avenir, also referred to as the under-23 Tour de France. He delivered an impressive display on Longchamp, with a time of 41’15min at an average power output of 5’88ᵉw/kg, which rivals Quintana’s ascent to Risoul in 2010 as the most impressive display in the history of the race. In doing so, Uijtdebroeks became youngest ever winner of Tour de l’Avenir.

Check out a detailed analysis of Uijtdebroeks’ impressive Tour de l’Avenir here.

At a similar age to Uijtdebroeks, Juan Ayuso dominated the Baby Giro, considered the second most important under-23 race for stage racers. However, Ayuso was not quite able to match Uijtdebroeks’ Avenir climbing level in that race, which took place just a year before Ayuso stormed onto the podium of the La Vuelta a España at the age of 19.

Given Uijtdebroeks’ young age, current trajectory and world class team structure at Bora-Hansgrohe, it is likely that he will follow a similar path as Ayuso and compete for the podium in La Vuelta a España, which the young Belgian is expected to ride this year.

8. Richard Carapaz

Alto de lÕAngliru – Spain – wielrennen – cycling – cyclisme – radsport – escape Richard Carapaz (Ecuador / Team Ineos-Grenadier) pictured during 75th La Vuelta ciclista a Espana (2.UWT) stage 12 from Pola de Laviana > Alto de lÕAngliru (109.4KM) – photo Luis Gomez/Cor Vos © 2020

Best Performance: Alto de l’Angliru: 42’59min at 6,19ᵉw/kg (2020)
EF Education-Easy Post

Richard Carapaz changed teams after missing out on a Grand Tour GC win again in 2022, so will now be riding for Vaughters’ American outfit as their Grand Tour leader. Although he was not able to match Jai Hindley’s peak climbing level in the Giro on Passo Fedaia, Carapaz is still one of the most consistent elite climbers in the world.

Throughout the Giro, Carapaz consistently performed well and seemed comfortable following on nearly all of the stages. His best performance came on Santa Cristina (36’15min at 6,20ᵉw/kg) where he followed the attacks of Landa and Hindley without seeming to struggle.

However, his only major setback in the race was on Stage 20, where his team INEOS paced inexplicably hard on the early slopes of Passo Fedaia, almost launching Jay Hindley to take the overall lead with a very impressive display at altitude (18’50min at 6,51ᵉw/kg) a pace Carapaz could not keep up with.

Puerto de Navacerrada – Spain – cycling – Richard Carapaz (ECU – INEOS Grenadiers) pictured during 77th La Vuelta ciclista a España (2.UWT) – stage 20 Moralzarzal > Puerto de Navacerrada (181km) – Photo: Luis Angel Gomez/SCA/Cor Vos © 2022

Apart from his consistent climbing ability, Carapaz is also a skilled tactician with excellent race craft. In fact, he won three stages and the KOM jersey of La Vuelta by utilising these skills despite being a marked man in all of the breakaways. It is not confirmed what his main target for the 2023 season will be, although he is most likely going to attempt to finish on the Tour de France General Classification podium again.

7. Enric Mas

San Luca - Italia - cycling - Enric Mas (ESP - Movistar Team) - Tadej Pogacar (SLO - UAE Team Emirates) pictured during Giro Dell'Emilia Internazionale men Elite 2022 - Carpi > San Luca (89,7km) - Photo: Massimo Fulgenzi/SCA/Cor Vos © 2022

Best Performance: Alto de l'Angliru: 42'55min at 6,20ᵉw/kg (2020)

During the spring stage races of 2022, Enric Mas was in good shape, but unfortunately crashed hard in all of them, ruining his chances for a top GC result. He then had a very disappointing Tour de France, in which he was not competitive, struggled with descending and retired due to Covid. However, Mas managed to impress again in La Vuelta.

On the first mountain stage of his home Grand Tour, Mas showed that he would be a different rider than he was in the Tour. He followed the "Generational" Evenepoel in the draft and finished third on the stage. Although he did not generate as many watts as Evenepoel, Mas managed to perform at his best level with a power output of 6,26ᵉw/kg for 30'09min. He continued to impress with a consistently high level of performance, being a top-three climber on all of the remaining mountain stages and performing at his career best level throughout the race. As a result, he finished second in the General Classification of La Vuelta for the third time.

After the race, Mas said that this performance gave him a lot of confidence for the future and he is now aiming for a Grand Tour GC win. He certainly displayed this newfound confidence in the autumn classics, winning the Giro dell'Emilia (after dropping Pogačar) and finishing second in Il Lombardia. Mas has already demonstrated the necessary climbing ability to win a Grand Tour, and at the age of 28, he still has many attempts at a three-week race left. However, his sub-par time trialing ability means that everything would have to go right for him to accomplish his dream.

6. Primoz Roglic

Lagos de Covadonga - Spain - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport - Primoz Roglic (Slovenia / Team Jumbo-Visma) pictured during 76th La Vuelta ciclista a Espana (2.UWT) stage 17 from Unquera to Lagos de Covadonga (185.8KM) - photo Luis Gomez/Cor Vos © 2021

Best Performance: Lagos de Covadonga: 26'45min at 6,36ᵉw/kg after La Collada Llomena 22'50min at 6,52ᵉw/kg (2021)
Jumbo Visma

In a similar ranking from 12 months ago, Primoz Roglic would have ranked in the top two without a doubt, but 2022 was a year of setbacks for the Slovenian cyclist. Although he managed to win Paris-Nice and Criterium du Dauphiné despite some difficulties, the rest of the year was a series of unfortunate events.

Roglic suffered a knee injury that rendered him uncompetitive in Itzulia Basque Country and forced him to withdraw from the Ardennes Classics. He returned for the Dauphiné and won the General Classification, but the race appeared to be a passing of the torch moment. Roglic performed admirably on the tough Solaison climb, averaging 6.27ᵉw/kg for 34'34min, however, his teammate Jonas Vingegaard, who set most of the pace, appeared to slow down heavily in the last 2.5km to avoid dropping Roglic. If Vingegaard were on an opposing team, he would have likely gained up to even a minute on Roglic on the climb.

Roglic subsequently crashed out of the Tour early, but was able to assist Vingegaard on the first big alpine stage. He later also crashed out of the Vuelta while in second place in the General Classification.

It appears that Roglic' performance declined somewhat during the 2022 season, as evidenced by the Solaison climb, which was not an occurrence we had seen in previous years, particularly in 2020 and 2021. Additionally, GC riders usually do not perform as well after being outperformed by their teammates (such as Hinault in 1986, Riis in 1997, and Wiggins after 2012).

After Jonas Vingegaard's victory in the Tour de France, the Dane appears to be the team's clear number one, leaving Roglic to focus on the Giro d'Italia. Given Roglic' age of 33 and multiple severe crashes and injuries over the past year, it is likely that he will experience some decline once again, whilst still remaining a top climber.

5. Jay Vine

San Miguel de Aguayo – Spain – cycling – Jay Vine (AUS – Alpecin – Fenix) pictured during 77th La Vuelta ciclista a Espa–a (2.UWT) – stage 6 Bilbao > Ascensi—n al Pico Jano San Miguel de Aguayo (181.2km) – Photo: Luis Angel Gomez/SCA/Cor Vos © 2022

Best Performance: Pico Jano: 29'53min at 6,58ᵉw/kg (2022)
UAE Emirates

It might seem overly optimistic to rank Jay Vine this high, but the Australian cyclist has shown that he can perform at an elite level and his best performances are among the most impressive in the last 20 years. He has also settled in well at his new team, winning the Australian National ITT Championships and the Tour Down Under GC in the first month of the season.

Vine had a decent start last year, finishing second on Mont Bouquet with a power output of 6,67ᵉw/kg for 13'29min. However, he was not competitive for the next three months due to an infection. Vine showed his potential on the climb of Gaustatoppen Stavsro during the Tour of Norway, where he performed at an elite level (30'49min at 6,34ᵉw/kg) to finish second behind Remco Evenepoel. He then won the Pico Jano mountaintop finish of La Vuelta from the peloton with a breathtaking 6,58ᵉw/kg for 29'53min.

Vine also won another stage two days later from the breakaway and was defending the KOM jersey before crashing out in the third week. However, he was not able to replicate his performance on Pico Jano. Vine can perform at a peak level that is currently only matched by a three or less riders, but he needs to improve his consistency to earn the 5th place in this ranking. Vine was a latecomer to the sport, but he has improved every year despite being 27 years old. This is why I remain confident that he will be a Top 5 climber in 2023.

4. Juan Ayuso

San Miguel de Aguayo – Spain – cycling – Juan Ayuso (ESP – UAE Team Emirates) pictured during 77th La Vuelta ciclista a Espa–a (2.UWT) – stage 6 Bilbao > Ascensi—n al Pico Jano San Miguel de Aguayo (181.2km) – Photo: Luis Angel Gomez/SCA/Cor Vos © 2022

Best Performance: Peñas Blancas: 45'40min at 6,13ᵉw/kg (2022)
UAE Emirates

In his first full professional season in 2022, the young Spaniard made quite an impression. He particularly stood out in his first full Grand Tour, the Vuelta a España, finishing on the overall podium.

Ayuso had a somewhat slow first part of the season, where he performed well but failed to reach a very high climbing level. However, he really showed his potential in La Vuelta. Although he struggled in a rather easy, but hot, hill stage in the Basque Country, he then climbed consistently at a very high level. This includes a fourth place finish on Pico Jano (30'48min at 6,23ᵉw/kg) and a second place finish from the GC group on Les Praeres (15'40min at 6,56ᵉw/kg). Ayuso also proved to be competitive at altitude, with an impressive chase on Sierra Nevada to finish fifth from the peloton after being dropped early due to positioning issues.

At just 20 years old, Ayuso is still very young but already is performing at an extremely high level. His performances in La Vuelta can be compared to Tadej Pogacar's in the 2019 Vuelta when he was one year older than Ayuso was in 2022. This is why I expect Ayuso to be one of the world's best climbers in 2023.

For a more detailed analysis, where Juan Ayuso is compared to other mega talents at the same age, check out this article.

3. Tadej Pogačar

Luz Ardiden - France - wielrennen - cycling - cyclisme - radsport - Tadej Pogacar (Slovenia / UAE - Team Emirates) - Jonas Vingegaard (Denmark / Team Jumbo-Visma) - Richard Carapaz (Ecuador / Team INEOS Grenadiers) pictured during 108th Tour de France 2021 stage 18 from Pau to Luz Ardiden (129.7KM) - photo Pool/Cor Vos © 2021

Best Performance: Col de la Loze: 1'01'15h at 5,88ᵉw/kg (2020)
UAE Emirates

Tadej Pogačar is an obvious choice for the top 3, and he is the third rider from UAE Emirates to make it into the top 5, showcasing their exceptional depth in elite climbing talent, which they are spreading out over the Grand Tours - Vine riding the Giro, Pogačar to the Tour and Ayuso for La Vuelta.

Although Pogačar lost at the Tour for the first time in three years in 2022, his performance level remained as high as ever. He performed at his peak level on all the mountain stages except on Stage 11 to Col du Granon, where he messed up his tactics, leading to unnecessary additional time loss.

His performances in the third week remained elite, but still below those of Jonas Vingegaard, as the Dane managed to take another 1'12min on Pogačar before giving up some time to celebrate with his teammates on the Champs Elysees.

It may be a difficult task for Pogačar to win the Tour, as Jonas Vingegaard seems to have another level on the long climbs, but Pogačar's ability to produce high-level performances repeatedly and after hard stages remains a serious weapon. With a dominant ride on Despiernacaballos in the Vuelta a Andalucia after a hard stage, Pogacar showed he is here to stay, although there was no noticeable improvement in performance compared to previous seasons.

2. Remco Evenepoel

Velódromo Vicente Chancay - Argentina - cycling - Remco Evenepoel (BEL - Soudal - Quick Step) pictured during Vuelta a San Juan 2023 - 40th Edition - stage 6 - Velódromo Vicente Chancay to Velódromo Vicente Chancay (144,9km) - Photo: Ilario Biondi/SCA/Cor Vos © 2023

Best Performance: Pico Jano: 30'08min at 6,50ᵉw/kg (2022)
Soudal - QuickStep

Tadej Pogačar and Remco Evenepoel were neck and neck for the second spot, as their climbing level is almost identical. I decided to give Evenepoel the edge as he has more potential for improvement in 2023, since his development is likely a bit delayed due to his terrible crash in the 2020 Il Lombardia. On the other hand, Pogačar has maintained a consistent performance level since the 2020 Tour de France, so it is unlikely that he will improve further.

Evenepoel had a slow start last year, not performing well on climbs until May. However, he finally unleashed his climbing skills and won the Tour of Norway GC, averaging 6,50ᵉw/kg for 30'23min on the Gaustatoppen Stavsro climb. The Belgian later won Klasika San Sebastian with the largest gap since 1990, after releasing another incredible climbing performance on Erlaitz (11'56min at 7,25ᵉw/kg).

He also dominated the Vuelta from start to finish, even though he struggled on the La Pandera mountaintop finish after a crash two days earlier. That climb was the only significant difficulty for Evenepoel in the race, and he became the first Belgian Grand Tour winner since 1978, before claiming the World Championships Road Race as well.

Evenepoel has yet to prove himself on really hard mountain stages with multiple long climbs, which he will face in the Giro d'Italia, where he is considered the favorite. While all signs indicate that he will perform well, it remains to be seen if he will dominate those stages as he did in La Vuelta a España.

1. Jonas Vingegaard

Paris - France - cycling - Vingegaard Jonas (DEN) of Team Jumbo-Visma pictured during 109th Tour de France (2.UWT) stage 21 Paris La Défense > Paris (Champs-Élysées) (112KM) - Photo: Nico Vereecken/PN/Cor Vos © 2022

Best Performance: Hautacam: 36'30min at 6,32ᵉw/kg after Spandelles: 29'57min at 6,17ᵉw/kg (2022)
Jumbo Visma

Jonas Vingegaard is the clear choice for the best climber in the world for 2023, after he won the General Classification of the Tour de France 2022. He dominated the mountain stages in that race, gaining 4'01min over second-place Tadej Pogacar.

Such dominance would have been unthinkable until a few weeks before the Tour, when the Dane won on the Solaison climb as described above. He still improved quite a bit for the Tour, showing very impressive climbing performances on Stage 11 to Col du Granon and Stage 18 to Hautacam, and equalling Pogačar in the time trials. His unprecedented climbing ability, especially on long and steep climbs, combined with his elite time-trialing skills make him a perfect Grand Tour specialist, even if he does not perform in every race all year round like Tadej Pogačar.

It is unlikely that Jonas Vingegaard will perform much worse than last year, and other riders, even super talents like Evenepoel, Pogacar, and Ayuso, will have to improve significantly to match him in the mountains. Thanks to these abilities and a great cast of supporting riders, Vingegaard has a good chance of defending the Yellow Jersey in 2023 and realising this number one ranking.


It is difficult to predict the top 10 climbers before the season starts because there are many elite climbers in the peloton and a lot can change in a year. That is why I have included many young riders with great potential in my list, such as Evenepoel and Uijtdebroeks. In recent years, cyclists have been performing at an elite level at a very young age, so it is possible that a rider like Cian Uijtdebroeks or another less obvious talent could be among the best climbers in 2023.

We will start to see some of these predictions being proven or disproven over the next month with several important one-week stage races coming up, such as Paris-Nice (featuring Vingegaard, Pogačar, and Bernal), Tirreno-Adriatico (featuring Vine, Mas, Landa, Thomas, and Hindley), and Catalunya (featuring Evenepoel, Roglic, Ayuso, Vine, and Uijtdebroeks).

Feel free to share your own predictions for the top 10 climbers of 2023, and check back here throughout the year for watts estimations and articles on the climbing performances from all the major races.

Gabriel Stróżyk (@NaichacaCycling)

    1. Hindley has the better peak level for sure, but I think this year Thomas might be better as a climber. Hindley is doing the Tour, where it is harder to perform than in Giro and the race doesn’t suit him as well.

    2. IMO you forgot DF Martinez. He is the best Ineos climber and will be a very hard task for Pog and Jonas in the TDF. I see him podium the Tour and Top 5 in this ranking.
      Remco and Vine should rank lower because they are not flexible enough if there’s team tactics, multiple attacks etc…they are more w/kg. This is not everything.
      Thus Carapaz should rank higher. Even Mas I would rank higher: in these days he is the only rider who can (sometimes) stay with Pog…and in the Vuelta he was even better in the mountains than Remco.. only lost the Vuelta due to time losses in ITT/TTT!

  1. Tadej in 3rd and no Jai Hindley is outlandish. Jai Hindley won a GT last year! Hello! And I guess this really is more “long climb” climbers, but if you factor in any kind of punchy climbing, Tadej is easily over Remco and potentially over Jonas too. Esp when you’re dinging Hindley for consistency; nobody more consistently elite than Tadej!

  2. Great analysis – will look forward to comparing to the actual results at the end of the year.

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