López lost control of his bicycle and skittered into a vine-covered road sign on the final wet and slippery descent of the day as he rode after Astana teammate Omar Fraile. The crash occurred shortly after the peloton had called an unofficial truce on the treacherous descent due to the crashes on the slippery roads.
Astana, however, sped off the front of the group on the winding descent. After distancing the peloton López locked up his rear wheel and went down.
“As everyone saw, I hit a sign and a kind of a wall,” López said. “In the end, we made it to the finish OK, and tomorrow will be a new day. Fortunately for us it wasn’t a big deal.”
López traded bicycles with a teammate and finished the stage in the peloton. He completed the 156-kilometer stage in the main group, and now sits alongside the other GC favorites on the general classification. At the finish line, the Colombian climber said the slippery roads and wet roadside paint contributed to the treacherous ride.
“There were a lot of crashes, and the course was a little bit dangerous, especially the downhills,” he said. “There was a lot of paint, and the crosswalks. There was so much tension all day, and the rain just made it worse. Everyone hit the deck. Luckily, I don’t have any damage from my crash, it could have been a lot worse.”
Astana’s curious decision to distance the peloton on the descent brought criticism from within the peloton. British rider Luke Rowe of Team Ineos Grenadiers said the Kazakh team ‘made themselves look pretty stupid’ with the move.
“I have to say ‘chapeau’ to the whole peloton, minus Astana to hit it down one climb, and as a result, their leader was left on his back,” Rowe said. “They made themselves look pretty stupid but apart from them, chapeau to the whole peloton.”
After the stage, Astana’s riders and directors clarified the crash and the move. Fraile told Spanish newspaper AS that he was simply riding his pace on the downhill. Astana manager Dmitiy Fofonov echoed the sentiment, saying the team’s goal had been to ride at the front on the treacherous section in order to avoid crashes.
The conditions, Fofonov said, forced the team to avoid risks.
“It was stress about the rain because we know the descent is really tricky,” Fofonov said. “A lot of [crashes] forced the team to stay in the front in the downhill to take the first position and go in our just don’t crash, don’t take risks.”