There are many battles unfolding in the Vuelta a España, from the pursuit of stage victories to the contest for prized jerseys and of course the overall victory, but no matter the task or aim and the success or failure of steps toward it on any given day a key priority that always looms large is making it through to fight on for another day.
Last year 49 riders lost that battle and abandoned the race along the way, for a myriad of reasons. Prominent among them at any Grand Tour are illness – with COVID-19 in particular taking a heavy toll at the 2022 race – and just hours before the race began the first case emerged among the start list, with Gerben Thijssen (Intermarché-Circus-Wanty) forced to pull out with the coronavirus, but fortunately for his team it doesn’t count as an abandon as there was still time for Italian climber Simone Petilli could take his place.
Crashes also took a significant toll, the biggest name among the tally being the three-time winner Primož Roglič, when a fall on stage 16 took him out of the 2022 race as he sat in second spot overall.
For the 2023 edition, there were 176 riders on the start line when it began with a 14.8km team time trial in Barcelona. However, even on that first day the field started the process of shedding riders and it is bound to continue through the 3,154km of racing.
Wet weather and darkness made for treacherous conditions on the opening stage, with some teams such as Alpecin-Deceuninck and Jayco-AlUla suffering mass crashes. All the riders from those squads managed to fight on for another day regardless but Ineos Grenadiers was not so lucky. Laurens De Plus became the first rider to leave the race after a heavy fall early in the ride.
The list inevitably continues to grow as the stages roll on and Cyclingnews will update the abandoned tally for this year’s Vuelta a España each day through the race.
Laurens De Plus (Ineos Grenadiers) DNF
The wet conditions intensified the darkness of the evening in Barcelona for the opening team time trial, and roads were slippery so it was never going to be easy for all to steer through the opening stages without crashes occurring. A number did, but most riders got up and managed to ride over the line but not Belgian rider Laurens De Plus. The 27 year old tried, but to no avail, as it was clear that he couldn’t go on and was instead taken by ambulance to hospital for a further…