Colombia’s Miguel Angel López has waded back into the controversy that saw him quit both the 2021 Vuelta a España and then Team Movistar, making outspoken criticisms of his former teammate, Enric Mas.
Mas and López were co-leaders for Movistar in the Vuelta a España. And with López winning the race’s toughest single mountain stage in Asturias and Mas clearly established as the most persistent rival of overall winner Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma), the two looked set to finish second and third overall.
However, on the final Saturday of the race, López abruptly abandoned after he fell behind mid-way through the stage. He did not regain contact with a front group of favourites also containing Mas.
After his hugely-controversial exit, López first apologized for his actions to his fans and his team, and then he and Movistar agreed to terminate his recently extended contract so he could quit the squad on October 1.
However, two months on, the former Vuelta and Giro d’Italia podium finisher has made some strong criticisms of his former teammate Enric Mas’ regarding leadership in the team.
“The atmosphere in Movistar was always very tense,” López told Colombian TV station RCN on their program ‘Chupando Rueda’. "Whenever I was ahead, Enric always looked for a way to move in front of me, [so] our roles were not clear.
“I worked in the Dauphiné for [Movistar co-leader Alejandro] Valverde, but then in the Grand Tours, our roles were not clear.”
López said that when he fell behind mid-way through stage 20 following attacks by Adam Yates and Egan Bernal (Ineos Grenadiers), with Mas and Roglič following, rather than being dropped he gave up his pursuit of the riders ahead.
“I stopped working because Mas asked me. When I was losing about 40-50 seconds, [team manager] Eusebio Unzué” – who was in the team car immediately following Lopez that day – “told me it was a really tough situation, but to stop working because I wouldn’t reach the guys ahead. That pissed me off a lot and so I got off my bike.”
López claimed that after stage 20 he had had another discussion with Mas, alleging that the Spanish rider asked López again why he had chased behind when he, Mas, was in the clear and ahead.
“Enric is a selfish person, I don’t want to share races with him again,” López told RCN.
However, at the time of his abandonment, López described his Vuelta exit as a “mistake”, adding “the criticisms [I’m getting] are for not going on [in the race] but we are human beings.”
His wife, Nathalia Acevedo, also added on Instagram at the time, “it’s easy to talk when you don’t know what the situation was.”
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