Organisers of the La Vuelta Femenina by Carrefour.es have given the women's peloton a serious challenge for 2023, announcing a seven-stage, 730.3-kilometre long route that starts in Torrevieja and ends in Lagos de Covadonga, a proper high mountain grand finale.
This 16-kilometre brute of a climb averages 7.4% and is similar to Alpe d'Huez in length and difficulty. The Lagos de Covadonga has been used 22 times in the Vuelta a España, with climbers Primož Roglič, Thibaut Pinot, and Nairo Quintana the most recent stage winners at its summit.
It's a Grand Tour climb that will produce a worthy La Vuelta Femenina champion and will celebrate the 40th anniversary of its appearance as one of the Vuelta a España's signature ascents.
"To end in such a famous location is essential for the race's media impact as it results in more coverage for the event. I'm glad La Vuelta Femenina by Carrefour.es has chosen such as well-known climb," Van Vleuten said.
"I'm excited, I know what to expect, it's a very tough climb. It's also good that we have some flat stages, as they also help to make the race very exciting. It's a very complete Vuelta."
The women's peloton have a version of the Giro d'Italia and Tour de France, and, now that the Vuelta has expanded to a full week, the set of Grand Tours is complete. With two hours of daily broadcast coverage, the race also approaches the Tour de France in terms of exposure.
The race grew out of the Challenge by La Vuelta, which originated as a one-day race in 2015. Organisers added a second stage in 2018, a third in 2020, a fourth in 2021 and a fifth last season.
La Vuelta Femenina opens with a 14.5-kilometre team time trial before riders tackle three flat stages. Stage 2 to Pilar de la Horadada has one small climb 20km from the finish, likely one of a reduced bunch sprint. A pan-flat stage 3 to La Roda is even better suited to the sprinters.
The overall contenders get a warm-up for the mountains ahead on stage 4 to Guadalajara, which climbs over the Alto de Hurche, a 4km ascent averaging around a 4.5% grade. The climbs get far more serious on stage 5 with the category 1 Puerto de Navafría mid-stage a finish on the 5km long Mirador de Peñas Llanas at 1483 metres in altitude.
The penultimate stage is just 106.7 kilometres long with two category 2 climbs, the Alto de Fuente de las Baras and Puerto de Campo el Hayal. However, organisers have saved the best for last: a 93.7km stage with the category 2 Collado Moandi mid-stage and the summit finale on the Lagos de Covadonga.
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Laura Weislo has been with Cyclingnews since 2006 after making a switch from a career in science. As Managing Editor, she coordinates coverage for North American events and global news. As former elite-level road racer who dabbled in cyclo-cross and track, Laura has a passion for all three disciplines. When not working she likes to go camping and explore lesser traveled roads, paths and gravel tracks. Laura's specialises in covering doping, an