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López raring to race in contract year with Team Astana

Colombian's schedule is still to be confirmed, though with a contract on the table, he's looking to race 'the sooner the better.'

The coronavirus racing stop came at a bad time for Astana’s Miguel Ángel López. Like hundreds of other pro cyclists, his current contract expires at the close of the season, and he’s barely had the chance to show what he’s worth.

López rose to the world’s attention in 2018 with third place finishes at both the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta an España, and went on to reinforce potential with two more grand tour top-10’s last year.

Having ridden with Astana since turning pro in 2015, it’s now or never for the 26-year-old, who will be out of contract in winter. His schedule for the year is yet to be confirmed, but above all, Colombia’s self-styled “Superman” just wants to pin a number on his back again.

“Our sports directors and coaches are now preparing plans for training camps and races for each rider,” López said Monday. “But, for me personally, the main goal at the moment is to get back into racing as soon as possible. I want everything to return to normal and the season to resume, the sooner the better.”

López spent the coronavirus lockdown at home in Colombia, and alongside Nairo Quintana, Egan Bernal, Rigoberto Uran, and dozens of other top Colombian pros, returned to training on the open roads in May. Having started the season hot with a stage win and third place at the Volta ao Algarve, he’s raring to dive into a full training program and get back to race-winning shape.

“It’s great that now I have the opportunity to train on the road, to gain mileage and gradually to restore the form that I had at the beginning of the season,” López said on his team’s website. “I am always in touch with the sports directors and coaches of the team, in particular, with my coach Maurizio Mazzoleni, who coordinates my training process.”

López has yet to start a Tour de France, though if Team Astana gives him the green light, he will likely have to travel on a specially-chartered aircraft out of his country to get to the Grand Départ in Nice. Colombia recently closed its borders to international travel through August 31, though it has recently been reported that the nation’s top riders will be granted exemption so as to be able to resume their racing season.

With a contract on the cards, López will be wanting that flight to be organized pronto so that he can get to work earning himself a few more years with his Kazakh team.

“We are all going through a difficult time, and in order to remain motivated and willing to train, you need to have a strong spirit and mental strength,” he said. “Of course, the support of my family, which is always close to me, and, of course, the support of my team, comes to the fore. The support of the team is an unconditional factor that allows me to train at home calmly and to maintain high motivation.”