López eyes other objectives beyond Giro d'Italia lead
Spaniard remains unexpected leader at the start of Giro's second week
Surprise Giro d'Italia leader Juan Pedro López confirmed on the second rest day that, while keeping the pink jersey for as long as possible is one big objective, that doesn't rule out his other goals for the race.
After his tenacious defence of the lead on the Blockhaus stage, López goes into the second week of the race with a 12-second advantage over Portugal's João Almeida (UAE Team Emirates).
The million-dollar question is how long López can hold onto maglia rosa, but he reminded the media on Monday that his initial aim in the Giro had been a stage win.
"Now I'm in pink I would like to keep it for longer, of course," López said in a rest day press conference on Monday. "But a stage win would be great and the white jersey [of best young rider] is an objective, too. Although, of course, Almeida is fighting for that classification, too."
López's goal of a stage win was all the more pressing, because in his five years as a pro, he has yet to take a single victory.
López has twice finished the Vuelta a España, finishing 13th in 2021. Can he be a Grand Tour podium contender in this Giro d'Italia or beyond? That future is unclear.
"I'm not saying the podium is possible or not although I'll give it 100% to get there every day. If I do, great, and if I don't, then it's not a bad result anyway. A top-five overall would be a great result."
López insisted that he had not changed at all as a person because of leading the second biggest bike race in the world, because "nothing has changed in my life, it's just one different coloured jersey to the rest and that's all. For sure I'm enjoying every kilometre that I'm wearing it, though."
What had also proved beyond his expectations, he said, was the race itself.
"Everybody had told me the Giro was the nicest race in the world and I didn't know whether to believe them," he said. "But after racing just a couple of kilometres in Hungary with so many people on the sides of the road, I actually got emotional and had a bit of a cry because I could see it was so special.
"For so many reasons, this is the best race of my life."
Yet for all López's dedication to remaining in the lead, and enjoyment of the Giro as an event, too, so far his best day in pink has been Monday's rest day.
"I've done one hour on the bike, came back and had a nice swim in the hotel pool and could relax a bit," he said about the rest day. "Today's been the best day of all."
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Alasdair Fotheringham has been reporting on cycling since 1991. He has covered every Tour de France since 1992 bar one, 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. As well as working for Cyclingnews, he has also written for The Independent, The Guardian, ProCycling, The Express and Reuters.