Lopez suffers early setbacks at Giro d'Italia

Colombian crashes, loses time in opening stage, looks to ahead to mountain stages

Although Chris Froome's training crash and time loss on stage 1 of the 2018 Giro d'Italia grabbed most of the headlines, Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana ProTeam) was another leading GC favourite to suffer an identical double setback.

The Colombian hit the deck on the Jerusalem stage 1 route, grazing his right leg, and then finished 61st in the time trial itself, 56 seconds back.

It is by no means a definitive time loss, particularly with three weeks of racing left, but this was hardly the ideal start, even if it was tempered by his teammate Pello Bilbao's strong sixth place. He is 19 seconds behind overall leader Rohan Dennis, after stage 2, while Lopez remains in 57 seconds back.

Talking to Cyclingnews, Lopez brushed aside his difficult start, saying, "I got a few cuts and bruises on the crash, but it was nothing important. The important thing is that I got through okay and now I can move on.

"My front wheel went on a zebra crossing on a corner; there was nothing I could do. But my motivation is good. I just want to get through these first few days, see how I get on in the mountains and see what happens there."

The Colombian' climbers build-up to the Giro d'Italia was near-perfect, mirroring his approach to the Vuelta a España last summer, where he took two stages and finished eighth overall. In the final warm-up race for the Vuelta a España, the Vuelta a Burgos, he took a stage and finished fourth overall.

This time round in the Tour of the Alps, with much tougher opposition including Chris Froome (Team Sky), Thibaut Pinot (Groupama-FDJ) and Domenico Pozzovivo (Bahrain-Merida), he finished third on GC and with a stage win in the Alto de Pampeago.

The opening Giro stage, though, proved difficult for López, but he is already determined to put it behind him and reset his focus on the mountain stages to come.

"I'm not willing to name a particular objective, I will try to do the GC, but I just have to see how it goes," he said. "It's a very hard third week, above all, so I want to take it on the day-by-day, depending on my feelings," he said.

"We've got a good team, and we're all in good condition, so we'll take it step by step."

After finishing safely in the main bunch on stage 2 in 74th place, López's next big target is the Etna, and he recognises it will be something of a voyage in the dark.

"I've never been up it, and I don't know anything about it. All I know is that it's a climb that goes on forever."

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