A bold double attack by Miguel Angel López (Astana) during the Volta a Catalunya’s second mountain top stage on Thursday rewarded the Colombian with more than a stage win and an opportunity to salute his soon-to-be-born son as he soloed triumphantly across the finish line. The 25-year-old's lone stage victory has also moved López into the overall lead, with the time bonuses and his margin placing him a solid 14 seconds ahead of Adam Yates (Mitchelton-Scott).
López also saw off rivals as formidable as Nairo Quintana (Movistar Team) and Egan Bernal (Team Sky), and in a race which is often won by minimal margins, 'Superman' López looks set to fly towards overall victory in Barcelona on Sunday without hitting too much turbulence.
However, after the stage López warned that "the fight will go on right 'til the last day," and pointed out that the stage at Montjuic on Sunday in particular "could be very dangerous".
"For now I only want to enjoy what I achieved today," López said after Thursday's win. "It's true, Friday's stage should be much easier, and in fact all the harder stages are behind us now. But we'll see what happens, things can change right up to the last finish line."
As for his victory at La Molina, Lòpez said that he had deliberately timed his first attack, nine kilometres from the line, to try and surprise the Sky-led peloton. “I went for it when Egan [Bernal] still had one rider left. I had good legs, but when they came up to me, I went for it again.
"I really believed I could do something today, the stage was so tough that I never thought there wouldn't be a big GC change after yesterday’s stalemate," he said.
"I knew the ascent from 2015, my first year as a pro. I'd finished maybe 15 or 20 minutes down but I had that reference. Plus I'd done a good Colombia Tour"- which he won - "but missed out on the top stage of Paris-Nice," where he was beaten by Dani Martinez (Team EF-Education First). "So after getting so many second or third places, this was a result I really wanted. And the thought of my son, who's soon to be born, made me feel more motivated too."
After Catalunya, López will head to Colombia for the birth of his child - "that's if he doesn't beat me to it," he joked - and then onto the Giro d'Italia, where he took third overall last year.
Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 as well as numerous other bike races of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the Olympic Games in 2008 to the now sadly defunct Subida a Urkiola hill climb in Spain. Apart from working for Cyclingnews.com, he is also the cycling correspondent for The Independent and The Independent on Sunday.
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