The Colombian had a delayed start to the season after fracturing his left tibia in an off-season crash last November and suffering lingering effects of the injury in the early part of this year. When he got underway in the Tour de Suisse in June, he showed solid form, and followed up that race with a stage win and third overall in the Tour of Austria. He won another mountain stage in the Vuelta a Burgos, and went on to win two stages in the Vuelta a España and finished eighth overall.
Astana's sports manager Dmitriy Fofonov was supportive in his press release comments, saying in his three months of racing this year Lopez "was able to show his great climbing talent".
"I think, there is no any doubt, Lopez proved his big potential in the Grand Tours, too. He has a great future ahead of him," Fofonov said. "Indeed, the season was short, but very intense. [Which is] why after the Vuelta we decided to give him some time for rest and [to] regain forces at home."
Fofonov's other comments seem to indicate that Lopez has struggled with the transition from Colombia to Europe, something which has plagued other top riders from his country like Carlos Betancur, who split with AG2R La Mondiale after he went home following the 2015 Giro d'Italia and then refused to return for his scheduled races later in the summer.
Lopez, the team says, will have time during his break "to decide some other questions, which could help him in future. For example, he has time to think and to solve the question about living in Europe during the racing season. By my opinion, this is very important."
However, Fofonov was confident that Lopez would feature prominently in the team's plans for the coming season. "I am sure, in 2018 Miguel Angel will be able to do a big step ahead," he concluded.
Kump joins CCC Sprandi Polkowice
Kump, a seven-time stage winner in the Tour of Qinghai Lake, will be a protected sprinter on the Polish team, says sports director Piotr Wadecki.
"Marko Kump is a very fast rider, who recently finished second in Brussels Cycling Classic, only behind Arnaud Demare. He has very valuable experience gained in World Tour teams, such as Tinkoff-Saxo, Lampre or UAE which he represents this season. He has a winning mentality and multiple victories under his belt. We will make sure that he has strong support late in the race, so he can fully showcase his sprinting skills."
After two seasons with Tinkoff, interrupted by one year at the Continental level with Adria Mobil before joining Lampre-Merida in 2016 and remaining through the transition to UAE Team Emirates, stepping down to the Pro Continental level was not a detriment for Kump.
"I'm super happy to have signed contract with CCC Sprandi Polkowice," Kump said. "I've known the team for many years, since I've been racing with them a lot. Recently I was able to learn even more about the squad and all I had heard were good things. So when I spoke with sports director, Piotr Wadecki, I was immediately excited about next year.
"I will do my best to justify management's trust. I know my abilities and I always aim to win races or to help my teammates get top results. This season is not finished yet, but I'm already looking forward to the next one."
Dutchman Martijn Verschoor will toe the line for the final race of his career with Team Novo Nordisk at the Sparkassen Münsterland Giro on Tuesday. The 32-year-old has competed at the highest level of the sport in spite of having insulin dependent Type 1 diabetes since the age of 13.
According to the Novo Nordisk team page, Verschoor began as a speed skater, but turned to cycling in his teens and turned pro at 23. He signed with Team Type 1 in 2010. His victory on stage 2 of the 2011 Tour de Beauce dispelled any doubts that Type 1 diabetics could be competitive against an international pro field. Verschoor also scored top finishes in the Grand Prix Cycliste de Saguenay, the Tour of South Africa, the Tour of Hainan, USA Pro Challenge, Tour of Qinghai Lake, Tour of China, Vuelta a Castilla y Leon and the Tour do Rio.
Mate befriends Scarponi's avian training partner Frankje
It has been almost half a year since the untimely death of Italian Michele Scarponi, and the cycling world continues to mourn and pay tribute to the affable Astana rider.
This weekend Luis Leon Sanchez dedicated his victory in the Gran Premio Bruno Beghelli to Scarponi, and on Monday Cofidis' Luis Angel Mate posted a video of himself with Frankje, the macaw in Montoro who became a social media sensation thanks to Scarponi's videos.
In an interview posted shortly after his death, Scarponi described making peace with Frankje, who had the bad habit of attacking him while he was out training. The bird began accompanying Scarponi on his rides.
It appears that Frankje has made a new friend in Mate.
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