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Miguel Ángel López ‘tranquilo’ in Astana-Qazaqstan return

Colombian star hits podium in Astana colors in first stage race since abandoning the Vuelta a España last year with Movistar.

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Miguel Ángel López came out swinging but couldn’t land the knockout punch in his return to Astana-Qazaqstan colors last week in Spain.

The Colombian star seemed intent on delivering some headlines after his high-profile transfer back to Astana following his controversial exit from Team Movistar at the end of last season.

López hit out a few times, including attacks in the Vuelta a Murcia and last week at Ruta del Sol, where he finished third overall and second in stage two despite crashing.

“We had quite a young team here and maybe we missed something to get a better result, but in general, I can be satisfied with the form I could build to the start of the season and with the way I spent this week,” López said in a team release. “I am looking forward to a small rest before my next and more important races.”

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All eyes were on López this week as he made his stage race debut in his new Astana-Qazaqstan team colors.

As defending champion, he was wearing the No. 1 race bib, but this year he was back in Astana turquoise and yellow.

The Colombian shrugged off a crash in stage 2, and finished second on the stage to climb into second on the GC. Things looked on track until Bahrain Victorious had other plans in stage 4, massing with its impressive firepower of Damiano Caruso, Mikel Landa, and Jack Haig — all grand tour podium finishers — to help eventual winner Wout Poels.

Teammate Alexey Lutsenko latched a wheel, and López seemed torn between chasing to close the gap to Poels or letting his new teammate have a chance to win the stage.

Lutsenko came up short, and so too did López. He couldn’t overcome Poels and Co. in Sunday’s finale and even dropped from second to third.

López, 28, didn’t speak to reporters when he stepped off the podium Sunday in Chiclana de Segura, but VeloNews spoke briefly with him earlier in the week.

“We’ve started the season pretty well, and we’ve prepared well with all the team since the beginning of the season starting in November and December,” he said. “We are tranquilo in this race, and that gives us confidence to keep working with tranquility.”

López didn’t want to chat for very long, and kept pulling away before the reporter got the chance to ask about his exit from Movistar.

The Giro d’Italia is the first major objective, and he didn’t seem too interested in chatting about last year’s Vuelta a España.

“The objective is this, to give everything and finish as high up as possible in the Giro,” López said as he turned away. “The Tour de France? We still haven’t decided. Right now, we’re focusing on the Giro and doing everything to get that right.”

López is hoping it’s all about racing this season as he moves back to Astana-Qazaqstan in 2022 following his tumultuous one-year detour through the Movistar franchise.

López melted down at last year’s Vuelta, and abruptly left the race on the penultimate stage. Though the podium was riding up the road under pressure from Jack Haig (Bahrain Victorious) and others, López still could have finished in the top six or seven.

Instead, López abruptly quit the race with less than one hour of racing left. Chaos ensued, and Movistar eventually broke its contract with López.

VeloNews approached Movistar riders, but they did not seem interested in replaying the drama, either.

Fans will get their front-row seat, however, when the third season of the popular NetFlix series El Día Menos Pensado is released. It’s expected to come out in March.

López did sit down with the documentary team for an interview, so it should make for some interesting viewing.