Astana and Miguel Angel Lopez are trying to keep their heads up after the Colombian lost almost four minutes to Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) on the second time trial of the Giro d’Italia. Lopez suffered an early puncture and gave away 3:45 to the Slovenian, more than any of the other major general classification contenders.
Before the Giro d’Italia, Lopez said that he hoped to lose no more than two minutes to Roglic across the Giro's three time trials. It appeared to be going well after a strong performance in the opening-day eight-kilometre chrono, in which he finished fourth, losing just 28 seconds to Roglic and finishing on the same time as Tom Dumoulin.
He kept his nose clean in the frenetic seven days of racing that followed and was in a strong position heading into the final stage before the first rest day. However, the mechanical put Lopez on the back foot and the climb at the end of the stage could only help him minimise his losses.
By the first intermediate check, Lopez was 1:30 down and that would extend to 3:03 by the second check at the bottom of the climb. He now sits 27th overall, 6:19 down on race leader Valerio Conti and 4:31 down on second-placed Roglic.
However, with two weeks and plenty of mountains to come, the team remain hopeful.
"Miguel Angel got a flat tyre quite shortly after the start, on a flat and technical part, immediately losing some good seconds," said team manager Alexandre Vinokourov.
"He tried to fight back on the climb, he was not bad at all there, but, finally, he lost much time. It was just a bad day for our leader, we lost this stage, but, for sure, we did not lose the race. The Giro finishes in Verona and we still have many days to come there. All the main mountain stages are still lying ahead of us. Miguel Angel is still our leader in this race and we will keep on fighting."
The team could take some solace in the performance of Pello Bilbao, who finished ninth and just 1:43 down on Roglic. After winning stage 7 from the breakaway, the Spaniard now moves up to 10th overall, just ahead of Vincenzo Nibali (Bahrain-Merida) and Bauke Mollema (Trek-Segafredo).