An off-season training ride accident delayed Miguel Ángel López's 2017 season debut to ensure the Astana rider had just one race day in his legs before defending his Tour de Suisse crown. The Colombian was 60th in his season debut at GP du canton d'Argovie but was off the pace in the Suisse opening time trial, finishing in 141st place.
Safely navigating the next two stages, Lopez's first climbing test of the year came on stage 4 to Villars-sur-Ollon where he placed eighth. While Lopez conceded time to his overall rivals, sitting tenth at 1:25 minutes to BMC's Damiano Caruso, he fared better than the likes of Giro d'Italia winner Tom Dumoulin (Team Sunweb) and Bahrain-Merida's Ion Izagirre.
"That was my first uphill finish since I came back in racing and, of course, it was a difficult one. I felt pretty good on the climbs, but honestly, I missed some racing rhythm. When the rivals attacked on the last climb, I tried to follow them and later to do the climb regularly. I was close to catch the group in front, but every time I was almost there, new attack was creating a new distance between them and me," said Lopez.
Lopez's 2016 overall win was constructed around his second place finishes at Sölden and in the Davos time trial, capping off his victory with fourth on the final day. With stage 5 of the race expected to suit a bunch sprint, Lopez's next GC challenge will come on stage 6 with the challenging finish at La Punt. Followed by Stage 7's Sölden summit finish with the final selection to come in the stage 9 Schaffhausen time trial.
Having shown glimpses of his climbing attributes on stage 4, Lopez added he is taking it one stage at a time and isn't yet thinking of taking the overall win.
"Anyway, I am quite happy with the stage. It was a good test for me, which shows I worked really good last months. Still many important stages are ahead. Let's see, what will happen," said Lopez.
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