King of the Mountain (KOM) Favourites La Vuelta 2023

King of the Mountain (KOM) Favourites La Vuelta 2023
Cyclists climbing a switchback

It's often the case that the King of the Mountain (KOM) jersey will get swept up by the general classification (GC) contenders at the event - simply due often to the bonus seconds awarded by winning stages, and how many stages end in mountain top finishes. The GC contenders will be aiming to garner those bonus seconds and will subsequently gain the KOM points at the top of the climb.

Sometimes there's even double the points for climbs that end the stage.

Is that going to be the case for the Vuelta? Let's dig in.

When you're concerning yourself with the KOM jersey not only do you have to worry about the GC contenders but also who has the mentality of wanting it.

For now start with the basic hypothesis of: Who's a great climber who isn't going to be going for GC? Or not going to be working for someone for GC.

Giulio Ciccone, Kämna and Carapaz spring to mind. But we think EF will want Carapaz to be going for GC so count him out. Carapaz did win the KOM jersey last year (2022) so keep that in mind, especially if he loses a bunch of time at the start of the event or crashes.

Now that the names are finalized - a Herrada from Cofidis may make an attempt at the jersey given that it doesn't seem quite yet that they have anybody going for GC. Education First definitely doesn't. So a Hugh Carthy or Simon Carr might not actually be a bad shout if they can learn to make the break. Marijn van den Berg, even though he could be going for the green jersey as well, could try for both and see what way the wind is blowing.

Ciccone might try to recreate his Tour polka dot jersey win - but will it be possible? Sergio Higuita from BORA will probably be given freedom to go and placed 7th last year in the attempt. He seems in good form after the Tour de Suisse where he nabbed 2nd on the KOM classification. Or what about good ol' Cian Uijtdebroeks who we wrote about recently?

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Lennert Van Eetvelt from Lotto Dstny might still be still too unproven in World Tour races, but can definitely climb. It'll be interesting to see how he fares. From Groupama - FDJ we have both Michael Storer and Lenny Martinez. Both who can make a strong stake for the jersey - but we're unsure Martinez has the consistency quite yet. Grégoire is super strong but we think he'll lean to go for the green.

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What are the stage profiles? How many points are on offer aren't going to be the final climbs of the stage? Not a whole heck of a lot.

Check out the stage profiles here.

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The majority of the climbs are bookends to stages. This is quite common for La Vuelta and it's indicative that a GC contender will be winning the jersey. That is, unless the break consistently is allowed to win. But with four strong contenders at this year's tour (Ayuso, Vingegaard, Roglič and Evenepoel) we don't think that will happen.

We're leaning towards a Vingegaard or Ayuso taking the jersey at the end of the day. A GC rider who crashes out or has a bad day is just too high of a possibility.

We'll update this however as more names for the race become solidified. Michael Storer won in 2021 and if he's going for Groupama it might be a good shout.