The first WorldTour one-day race of the 2023 season is upon us, featuring 14 teams of which 11 are WorldTour level. The last time the biggest Australian one-day race, with its equally long name, happened was in 2020. It is one of the few WorldTour races on the calendar that has optional participation for WorldTour teams, so teams like Jumbo-Visma and Groupama-FDJ have already headed back to Europe after the Tour Down Under. Australians including Michael Matthews, Caleb Ewan and Jay Vine are some of the favourites to win the race, however, in its short history, the only Australian to have won the Cadel Evans Race is Jay McCarthy, who was victorious in 2018.
Trofeo Calvia is the first of five UCI 1.1 category one-day races in Mallorca. Some riders use the Mallorcan races as training to get in better shape like Alejandro Valverde but with loads of UCI points on the line some teams are definitely motivated to perform already in January. As the series of races are uniquely five consecutive one-day races rather than a stage race, teams can substitute riders in and out of the team each day as they wish, choosing from their broader squad that will presumably be training in Mallorca. For the first time Trofeo Calvia and the other races in Mallorca will be broadcast live, which is great news.
The Vuelta a San Juan is the most prestigious stage race in North and South America and attracts some of the biggest names in cycling. Remco Evenepoel will start his 2023 season in Argentina as the current world champion whilst other stars lining up include Peter Sagan, Egan Bernal, Daniel Felipe Martinez, Filippo Ganna, Miguel Angel Lopez, Fabio Jakobsen and Sam Bennett. To Evenepoel's chagrin, there is no time-trial this year. Instead the fight for the GC title will be decided by the mountain stage up Alto del Colorodo.
WorldTour Cycling is finally back in 2023 with the Santos Tour Down Under, starting with a prologue on 17th January. Due to the Covid pandemic, the race was cancelled in the previous two years and it returns with a changed parcours, without the famous Willunga Hill finish or indeed Richie Porte. This Tour Down Under is suited for versatile sprinters like Michael Matthews, Ethan Hayter and Corbin Strong and offers many hilly stages.
The Tour de France 2023 route was revealed yesterday in Paris, featuring numerous sprints, plenty of tough medium mountain stages and a historical shortage of time trial kilometres. There are just enough long and steep mountains like Col de la Loze, Col du Tourmalet, Joux Plane and Grand Colombier, dotted around the three weeks but without any mountain stage rivalling the difficulty of the Col du Granon stage in 2022. The sole 22 kilometre time-trial contains 650 metres elevation gain, which makes this the ideal Tour de France parcours for General Classification contenders with a weak time trial such as Enric Mas, David Gaudu, Romain Bardet, Mikel Landa and Richard Carapaz. Unfortunately for them, being poor against the clock does not make you climb fast, with Pogačar, Roglič, Vingegaard and Evenepoel all being exceptional time trial riders but also the best climbers.
Volta a Catalunya is perhaps the best chance of the year for climbers who cannot time-trial well and are not born in Slovenia to take a WorldTour GC victory. For riders like Michael Woods or Nairo Quintana, it is a golden opportunity to win GC by purely out-climbing everyone else and securing much needed UCI points for their teams.
High level climbers will clash in Tour de la Provence 2022, which features Nairo Quintana and Ivan Sosa, who both performed at a very high level on Chalet Reynard in the 2020 and 2021 editions respectively