In the aftermath of the 2018 Giro d'Italia, teams and riders have taken stock of how the race went for them, and Kazakh squad Astana are no exception – especially as their Colombian youngster Miguel Angel Lopez scored an impressive podium place, finishing third, as well as taking the white jersey as best young rider.
"This is a big result for me and, I think, for the whole Astana team," 24-year-old Lopez said in Rome having completed his second Grand Tour, following eighth place overall at last year's Vuelta a Espana, where he also won two stages.
Lopez, who also won the 2016 Tour de Suisse at just 22, headed into Friday's 19th stage, which included the climb of the Colle delle Finestre and a summit finish on Monte Jafferau, in sixth place overall with a 4:54 deficit to then race leader Simon Yates. What unfolded over the next two stages – Froome's attack and Yates' subsequent collapse on the Finestre, and then Thibaut Pinot's (Groupama-FDJ) similar collapse the next day on stage 20 to Cervinia – would have been as big a surprise to Lopez and his teammates as it was to everyone watching on at home.
All the while, Lopez set about defending his white jersey from Movistar's Richard Carapaz, and at the same time slowly, and perhaps not wholly unintentionally, moved his way up the GC, leapfrogging the hapless Yates and Pinot, while also overhauling Bahrain-Merida's Domenico Pozzovivo, who had looked set to take a podium place ahead of stage 19, but lost five minutes to Lopez on the double-whammy of the Finestre and the Jafferau.
"We worked hard through all three weeks of the Giro," Lopez said on the Astana team website. "And I'm happy to win this white jersey as the best young rider. It was my first goal here at the Giro and it's great to have achieved it. A top-five place in the general classification was my second goal and now, on the podium, I'm happy to have exceeded my target."
Astana team manager Alexandre Vinokourov was even more effusive about his team's performance, praising Lopez and also Pello Bilbao, who finished sixth overall: "To get the final podium of a Grand Tour with as young a rider as Miguel Angel Lopez is a great achievement. After a difficult year, we've got back to the podium of a big race, and I'm sure this is just the beginning for us.
"I'm happy with Miguel Angel, and I'm happy with the whole team," Vinokourov continued. "We've had three fantastic weeks at this race. To get the final result of a GC podium and the white jersey with Miguel Angel and Pello's sixth place is great."
Astana will now prepare for July's Tour de France, where Dane Jakob Fuglsang will enjoy the team's backing to attempt to take their second podium position in as many Grand Tours.
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