The second edition of O Gran Camiño will feature the reigning Tour de France champion Jonas Vingegaard who will begin his season here, a huge coup for the organisers. The early Spanish pre-season races have been blessed with big stars, with Pogačar previously attending Clasica Jaen and Vuelta a Andalucia. Here in Galicia, Vingegaard’s biggest challenger is likely to be Movistar with Ruben Guerreiro as well as Cofidis who bring three viable GC leaders.
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The opening stage likely will end with a reduced bunch sprint. The stage features more than 3,000 metres of climbing which will fatigue legs but there are steady hills rather than hard mountains close to the finish which should not be hard enough to shatter the peloton. Like last year, there are not many fast finishers on the start list. Luke Lamperti (Trinity Racing), Nicolas German Tivani (Corratec), Joaquin Jose Rojas (Movistar), Giovanni Lonardi (EOLO-Kometa), Carlos Canal (Euskadi – Euskaltel) and Lars Boven (Jumbo-Visma) are riders with a faster kick but they will need to survive the climbs. Boven performed well in U23 races in 2022 and has a contract with the Jumbo-Visma development team and will earn valuable experience with the big team. This might be his chance to get a first pro victory.
The first of two stages with a mountain top finish. The final climb A Guarda (3.9 km, 7.2%) might be too easy for Jonas Vingegaard and is a regular one with no steeper or shallower sections. A relatively easy 10-minute climb might suit more someone like Ruben Guerreiro who is punchy. Guerreiro already won the 2023 Saudi Tour GC and should be good in Galicia. Vingegaard’s teammate Attila Valter might also be good on such a finish, as he prepares for Strade Bianche. Cofidis have also brought a good squad with Jesus Herrada, Simon Geschke and Ion Izagirre. Herrada won on a similar finish in the Tour of Oman and might be their best option.
The Queen stage with 3,800 metres of elevation and many difficult climbs. The riders will go up the steep Alto de Santa Marina climb (5.5 km, 10.3%) twice. If Jonas Vingegaard is in good shape he might drop everyone already here. However due to the time trial on the final stage, Jumbo-Visma should not be that concerned with doing long-range attacks when Vingegaard even at 95% of top shape is superior in this discipline compared to the Movistar and Cofidis leaders. Hopefully for the fans sake they are aggressive, and the valleys are not long, which suits long-range attacks.
The final climb Rubia (6.7 km, 6.3%) is not as hard as the previous two ascents in the stage which should motivate early attacks. If the race will not be decided before the final climb the 11.4% steep section might be hard and long enough to ride away from rivals.
If the climbing stages will not have decided the general classification at this point then the final day time-trial finish at Santiago de Compostela will be exciting. Last year Alejandro Valverde beat race leader Michael Woods in the final time trial and won overall by only 7 seconds. Jumbo-Visma riders excel in time trials and their setup definitely is very good especially compared to Movistar. Rohan Dennis, Jonas Vingegaard and Steven Kruijswijk if they go full gas should do well on the hilly course with 308 metres of elevation gain in 18km.
Alongside Vingegaard, Jumbo-Visma have sent Steven Kruijswijk, Rohan Dennis, Johannes Staune-Mittet, Loe van Belle, Attila Valter and Lars Boven. Youngsters Staune-Mittet and Van Belle finished last year in Tour de l’Avenir 2nd and 9th respectively. In 2022 as a second-year U23 rider, the Norwegian Staune-Mittet was promising in his season debut in Volta ao Algarve and later did great in U23 races even winning the Ronde de l’Isard GC. It is an extremely strong squad for a 2.1 race with a time trial, but it is impossible to know the shape of Vingegaard before the race.
This is a home race for Movistar. The Spanish team has sent a good squad with Ruben Guerreiro, Abner Gonzalez, Will Barta, Antonio Pedrero, Jorge Arcas, Joaquin Jose Rojas and Ivan Ramiro Sosa. It will be hard to challenge Jumbo-Visma but the Dutch team might not care as much about this race as Movistar. Vingegaard definitely will not be at his peak or close to it in February.
Aside from Jumbo-Visma and Movistar, the GC field is not so deep in the absence of EF-Education EasyPost who attended this race last year in dire need of UCI points. Jesus Herrada, Ion Izagirre and Simon Geschke (Cofidis), David De La Cruz (Astana), Lorenzo Fortunato (EOLO-Kometa), Igor Arrieta (Equipo Kern Pharma) and Jefferson Alveiro Cepeda (Caja-Rural) might be other riders who might show something in GC.
Jonas started his 2022 season in strong fashion with a dominant victory in Drôme Classic ahead of Ayuso. Even if he is not at 90% of his Tour shape the Dane should be good enough to win this race mainly due to the time trial. Guerreiro, Herrada & Co will need to gain a lot of time against Jumbo-Visma riders in the mountains to have a chance of defending the jersey in the final stage.