Tadej Pogacar wins the Vuelta a Andalucia

Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) secured overall victory at the Vuelta a Andalucía, his first stage race victory of the 2023 season and the 12th of his career.

The Slovenian, who won three stages of the five-stage race, finished securely in the peloton on the final stage to Alhaurín de la Torre to confirm his win, 1:23 ahead of Mikel Landa (Bahrain Victorious) and 1:28 up on Landa's teammate Santiago Buitrago.

An unusual sight in the final kilometre saw race leader Pogačar working on the front as his UAE Team Emirates squad led out Alessandro Covi, seeking to make it five wins for the team in five stages at the race.

The team had taken control in the final 3km after Movistar had reeled in breakaway survivor Dries De Bondt (Alpecin-Deceuninck) just inside the final 10km. However, despite a sterling lead out up the hill it wasn't to be for Covi.

Omar Fraile (Ineos Grenadiers) was on hand to spoil the party at the finish Alhaurín de la Torre, blasting to the front on the uphill run to the final corner.

In prime position to finish off the late move, he accelerated down the finish straight to put some distance between himself and Covi to claim the victory. The win is Fraile's first since taking the Spanish national title in 2021 and the eighth of his career.

"It was really great. We did a perfect job through the week. I'm super happy with my shape and with the shape of the team," Pogačar said after the stage.

"With the result, I'm maybe a little bit surprised, but I knew that my level is good. In this race, I felt really strong, and I hope I can feel as strong in the next races.

"Just to continue the season [as it has been] until now," he concluded when asked about his season goals.

Away from the battle for the stage and the overall, Pogačar also took home the points jersey, while Ineos Grenadiers were crowned top team, and Euskaltel-Euskadi rider Gotzon Martín walked away with a well-earned king of the mountains prize.

Vuelta a Andalucia Ruta Ciclista Del Sol 2023 - 69th Edition - 5th stage Otura - Alhaurin de la Torre 184,3 km - 19/02/2023 - Dries De Bondt (BEL - Alpecin - Deceuninck) - photo Luis Angel Gomez/SprintCyclingAgency©2023

Dries De Bondt (Alpecin-Deceuninck) put in the ride of the day going solo from the breakaway (Image credit: Luis Angel Gomez/SprintCyclingAgency©2023 )

How it unfolded

The final stage of the Vuelta a Andalucía would see the riders take on another hilly challenge with four classified climbs on the menu, including the final first-category climb of Puerto del Sol (17.3km at 4.9%) midway through.

The 184km stage would conclude with another hilltop finish at Alhaurín de la Torre, though less challenging than previous finishes with a gentler gradient.

While the battle for the break on stage 4 lasted over half the stage, in contrast it was wrapped up very swiftly on Sunday, with Xabier Isasa (Euskaltel-Euskadi), Dries Van Gestel (TotalEnergies), and Vincent Van Hemelen (Flanders-Baloise) getting away almost as soon as the stage began.

The trio would swiftly be joined in the move by Kevin Colleoni (Jayco-AlUla), Dries De Bondt (Alpecin-Dececuninck), Erik Fetter (Eolo-Kometa) and Pascal Eenkhoorn (Lotto-Dstny), while José Manuel Díaz (Burgos-BH) would fail in an attempt to bridge alone.

As Movistar and Intermarché-Circus-Wanty took up the pace making at the head of the peloton, where they would remain for much of the day, the gap to the break went up to 2:30.

That would be a stable lead for most of the stage, with the peloton keen to give the break little leeway. The early climbs of the Alto el Cerrajón and Alto del Navazo came and went without much drama as the break collected the minor KOM points at the top and the peloton rolled along, still at around the 2:30 mark.

Vuelta a Andalucia Ruta Ciclista Del Sol 2023 - 69th Edition - 5th stage Otura - Alhaurin de la Torre 184,3 km - 19/02/2023 - Peloton - photo Luis Angel Gomez/SprintCyclingAgency©2023

The peloton out on the road during the final stage (Image credit: Luis Angel Gomez/SprintCyclingAgency©2023 )

The big climb of the Puerto del Sol, too, passed without much incident, and certainly no long-range attacks at over 80km from the line. In fact, there wouldn't be much action until the final classified climb of the day – and of the race – the third-category Alto de Los Nunez.

There, 40km from the line, it was Dries De Bondt who turned on the power to blow up the breakaway as the peloton closed in to under a minute.

One by one, the breakaway riders were reabsorbed, until it was just the Belgian left in the lead, hanging a few seconds ahead of the peloton as he crested the climb.

The 31-year-old would put in a spirited effort on the descent and the flat run towards Alhaurín de la Torre as he sought, against all odds, to add to his six career victories. Last year, he triumphed from the breakaway on stage 18 at the Giro d'Italia, but De Bondt was fighting a losing battle as Movistar, UAE Team Emirates, and Intermarché-Circus-Wanty controlled the pace behind him.

He did, however, manage to drag out a gap of 20 seconds on the flat, but despite a heroic effort to stay away for as long as possible, his day came to an end when he was finally caught 9km from the line.

Movistar continued to lead the way towards the finish until Ineos Grenadiers and Jayco-AlUla joined in the fun at 4km to go. UAE Team Emirates were also up there, taking control in the final 3km as they sought to complete a clean sweep of stage wins at the race.

Race leader Pogačar was an unexpected face at the front of the peloton, the Slovenian unselfishly working for his teammates as he put in a big turn to keep the pace high as the road tilted upwards.

After he peeled off, Tim Wellens did the final turn before Alessandro Covi launched for the line. Unfortunately for him and UAE, however, Omar Fraile was coming up on the right-hand side with speed, blasting through to the front.

The Basque rider was in the lead around the tight final bend, a key moment, and pushed on in the closing metres to cross the line a couple of bike lengths up on Covi, his win never in doubt.

Results powered by FirstCycling (opens in new tab)

Thank you for reading 5 articles in the past 30 days*

Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read any 5 articles for free in each 30-day period, this automatically resets

After your trial you will be billed £4.99 $7.99 €5.99 per month, cancel anytime. Or sign up for one year for just £49 $79 €59

Join now for unlimited access

Try your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

Daniel Ostanek
Production editor

Daniel Ostanek is production editor at Cyclingnews, having joined in 2017 as a freelance contributor and later being hired as staff writer. Prior to joining the team, he had written for most major publications in the cycling world, including CyclingWeekly, Rouleur, and CyclingTips.


Daniel has reported from the world's top races, including the Tour de France and the spring Classics, and has interviewed many of the sport's biggest stars, including Wout van Aert, Remco Evenepoel, Demi Vollering, and Anna van der Breggen.


As well as original reporting, news and feature writing, and production work, Daniel also runs The Leadout newsletter and oversees How to Watch guides throughout the season. His favourite races are Strade Bianche and the Volta a Portugal, and he rides a Colnago C40.

Latest on Cyclingnews