Miguel Ángel López (Astana Qazaqstan) secured his best result since the start of the season with second on the final stage and third in the overall standings at the Vuelta a Burgos. The race was López’s first outing since being cleared to race following an inquiry into his alleged role in drug trafficking inquiry. The Colombian has not been charged with any offense.
The 28-year-old was reported to be linked to Dr. Marcos Maynar, a University professor currently under investigation for alleged drug and money laundering misdemeanors. Astana Qazaqstan took López out of racing and waited on developments in a case it claimed to know little about. López was reportedly questioned by the Spanish authorities but Astana later released a statement indicating that they lacked a contractural position from which they could continue to enforce the rider’s suspension.
López came into the final stage at the Vuelta Burgos sitting 16th overall but on the finishing climb to Lagunas de Neila he put in a serious attack with around 2km to go. Although a lead group of three, containing stage winner Joao Almeida (UAE Team Emirates) and eventual race winner Pavel Sivakov (Ineos Grenadiers) made contact with López before the summit the Astana rider was able to hold onto Almeida’s late attack and finish second on the stage.
The result catapulted López up the GC standings and into third overall, tied on the same time as second place Almeida. López’s best results this season in terms of GC had been third overall at the Vuelta a Andalucia Ruta Ciclista Del Sol back in early spring. He abandoned the Giro d’Italia in May due to injury.
“It was my first race after a big break and I came here after a long period of recovering after my injury from the Giro d’Italia,” López said at the finish.
“So I can say that I am quite happy with my performance here, because after such a long period I am still missing the racing rhythm and it is normal, I still need some time to get in shape. I was hoping for a good result in this race and today I tried my best to win the stage and to reach the final podium. Well, I could not win, but I got a place on the final podium and I also won the mountain jersey, so this week looks good to me.”
López also netted the king of the mountains jersey for his efforts. His next race will be the Vuelta a España later this month, where he will lead the line alongside Vincenzo Nibali in the Italian’s final grand tour before retirement.