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Miguel Ángel López has described his ill-fated stint at Movistar this season as an “experience.”
The Colombian climber had no regrets about his decision to swap to the Spanish team for 2021, despite leaving the team just weeks after signing an extension following a spectacular falling out during the Vuelta a España.
López is back at Astana-Qazaqstan for 2022 following his year away and he said that he will take what he learned from his Movistar stint with him.
“Sometimes you have to make changes. It might work out well, it might not. Things happened like they did, and in the end, it all serves as experience and something to hold onto,” López said diplomatically during a video press conference at an Astana training camp.
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López turned professional with Astana back in 2015 and enjoyed a lot of success with the squad, including podium finishes at the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a España, and a stage win at the Tour de France.
On his return to the team at its training camp in Spain this week, which lasts until December 20, López has been getting acquainted with some new and old faces. He has been reunited with former teammate Vincenzo Nibali — who was with the team between 2013 and 2016, and returns for next year — and he has met new teammate Gianni Moscon, who joins from Ineos Grenadiers.
“It’s like coming back home. I’m seeing the same directors as before, riders I’ve ridden with before, like Vincenzo and [Alexey] Lutsenko. I’m basically re-taking the path I was on a year previously,” he said.
“I can also see that there’s a big change in the structure of the team. A lot of new riders have come in, like Gianni. We’ve got high-level riders here and that makes us one of the strongest teams. It’s a good atmosphere and we’re focused on working hard. For me, it’s a new challenge to come back and give the best of myself.”
Aiming for the Giro d’Italia
López’s one-year spell at Movistar was difficult at times but it wasn’t all bad. Despite needing to delay his season after contracting COVID-19 during last winter, he got off to a strong start and won the Vuelta a Andalucía in May before winning the Mont Ventoux Dénivelé Challenge in June.
His Tour de France appearance was disappointing, and he ultimately left in the final week, but he was on some good form at the Vuelta a España, winning a stage and sitting third overall before he left so dramatically on the penultimate day.
López wants to focus on those good moments and take them into his 2022 goals. While his full racing program has not been finalized, López has his sights set on the Giro d’Italia GC.
“The route for both the Giro and the Tour caught my eye but I’m going to focus solely on the Giro and then we’ll see,” López said. “At this point, I don’t know if I’ll be doing the Tour or not. I’m going to put everything into being good at the Giro.”
López finished third overall at the 2018 Giro d’Italia, behind Chris Froome and Tom Dumoulin, but he wants more than that next year. At 27, he has gained a lot of experience as a grand tour rider and he would like to deliver on that on his return to Astana.
“I think that it’s now the time to think about going for something big,” he said. “I will definitely aim for the podium, but I dream of victory.
“I’m going in with high hopes, a lot of motivation, especially being in a new team. We can dream about being able to achieve something big. I’ve been very close before and can think about going for a stage and, as a minimum, finishing in the top positions, like the podium.”