PREVIEW | Vuelta a Espana 2023 stage 6 - Javalambre climb the first test for Remco Evenepoel in red

Preview. Stage 6 of the Vuelta a Espana is a day where the legs will only be tested on one climb so it will be hard to put Remco Evenepoel under pressure with numbers, however the summit finish at Javalambre will be very complicated and can set important differences.

On the sixth day of racing the riders ride into a familiar sight for the second summit finish of the race. It will be at the Observatorio Astrofisico de Javalambre where the finish line will be positioned, with it's 12 kilometers at 7% providing terrain for differences to be made amongst the GC men. It's a day that is seemingly almost flat until the final climb but that's incredibly far from reality.

PREVIEW | Vuelta a Espana 2023 stage 6 - Javalambre climb the first test for Remco Evenepoel in red
Stage 6: La Vall d'Uixó - Observatorio Astrofísico de Javalambre, 183.8 kilometers

The riders start off which a 4.4-kilometer climb at 5%, and then they find several similar to that throughout the day. The 183 kilometers see only three categorized climbs, only one meaningful ascent, but it has 4000 meters of climbing. By no means will the riders arrive fresh to the ascent of the Observatorio Astrofísico de Javalambre.

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The ascent is 11.1 kilometers at 7.5%. Completely exposed to the sun, and wind if it's present, it's a tough ascent. The gradients are relatively constant in it's final kilometers between 8-11%, the start is relatively calm but with the fight for positioning the pace will be high. This is a stage that has Vuelta written all over, it will also be an important day for the overall classification, and one that forces the GC riders to be at their best early on.

PREVIEW | Vuelta a Espana 2023 stage 6 - Javalambre climb the first test for Remco Evenepoel in red
Javalambre: 11.1Km; 7.6%

The Weather

PREVIEW | Vuelta a Espana 2023 stage 6 - Javalambre climb the first test for Remco Evenepoel in red
Map Vuelta a Espana 2023 stage 6

The wind will blow from the north and intensify throughout the afternoon. A headwind in the first kilometers of Javalambre, meaning a similar situation as Arinsal is likely to happen. The riders take on a sharp turn with around 2 kilometers to go and from there on there will be a tailwind all the way to the finish so I expect the main moves to only come there.

The Favourites

Remco Evenepoel - Evenepoel wants to give the jersey away, his words have been relatively clear. He knows that into the multi-mountain stages Jumbo and UAE will not hesitate to use their numbers to attack the race hard, and he wants another team to have or share responsibility. Hence I don't expect Quick-Step to try and control the breakaway, and for the break to win, since I doubt any team will be burning riders throughout the day to try and contest for a stage win that's all but certain. Stage-wise this suits Evenepoel quite well, although the day is hard let's be honest there's only one climb where attacks may come, it's steep and it's hard so team depth won't matter that much.

Jumbo-Visma - Jumbo would ideally want to keep things as they are. Sepp Kuss can still be used to put pressure on Evenepoel but not on this stage. If they keep him close to the front they have the chance to do damage on other days. Primoz Roglic and Jonas Vingegaard can both ideally fight for the win, maybe even take time on the competition. Either ways the team is strong enough for both scenarios, Wilco Kelderman has lost time and he is open to sacrificing himself in the front.

UAE Team Emirates - UAE are in a similar situation to Jumbo honestly, ideally they'd try to keep things as they are. Juan Ayuso and João Almeida sit tidy in the GC, but both Marc Soler and Jay Vine sit right behind. Four riders can do a lot of damage in other days, here they may launch a few attacks but not sacrifice any of the riders.

The GC fight will be in play. The riders above the main figures, but as will several other stages, this one can be key. The final ascent is hard and we should see the same protagonists close to the front, Enric Mas the one likely still dreaming of the GC win taking into consideration his race so far. Youngsters Lenny Martínez and Cian Uijtdebroeks will continue to test themselves when it comes to consistency, whilst Aleksandr Vlasov and Thymen Arensman will be other figures to watch.

As I've previously mentioned, I think Quick-Step wants to give away the jersey. This opens up the possibility for GC outsiders to have the freedom to join the breakaway despite their small gaps to front. This adds some names who may take the risk, as glory can be meaningful. Bahrain for example have Mikel Landa, Santiago Buitrago and Damiano Caruso who may all want to do it, it seems none currently is in fight for a top result. Lennard Kämna, David de la Cruz, Juan Pedro López and Hugh Carthy will also likely hope to join the front group and take on a red jersey for at least a day.

When it comes to climbers that no longer have GC aspirations, who may have saved their legs in the last few days and have here a nice opportunity we've got Romain Bardet who lost a lot of time today specifically, Egan Bernal, Michael Storer, Kenny Elissonde, Antonio Tiberi, Lennert van Eetvelt and Jesús Herrada.

Prediction Vuelta a Espana 2023 stage 6:

*** Lennard Kämna, Romain Bardet
** Lennert van Eetvelt, Juan Pedro López, Santiago Buitrago
* Remco Evenepoel, Primoz Roglic, Jonas Vingegaard, Juan Ayuso, Hugh Carthy, Damiano Caruso, Lennert van Eetvelt

Pick: Romain Bardet

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