Lopez lived up to his nickname of Superman when he went headfirst over his handlebars in the final kilometres of the third stage to Mirador de Ézaro. Several riders came down with the Colombian, but he took the longest to remount his bike. Lopez spent many minutes on the ground, putting his hand to his mouth, while teammates hung back to assist him in his chase.
With Vincenzo Nibali and Fabio Aru missing the Vuelta this year, Lopez is Astana’s main hope for the overall classification. When he did eventually get back on his bike, any general classification hopes that he had held prior to the Vuelta had been dealt a major blow. With the help of four of his teammates, Lopez did make it to the finish, albeit with a 12-minute deficit to the day’s winner Alexandre Geniez (FDJ) that now leaves him more than 13 minutes behind the red jersey.
“Miguel Angel Lopez, who fell in the final part of the third stage of the Vuelta a España, reported the partial rupture of three teeth as well bruises on various parts of the body,” a statement on the Astana website read. “In agreement with the medical staff of Astana Pro Team, the young Colombian talent will be regularly at the start of the fourth stage.”
Michele Scarponi is now Astana’s best-placed rider after remaining in the bunch following Lopez’s accident. The Italian sits in 20th place overall, just over two minutes behind the race leader Ruben Fernandez (Movistar). The fourth stage of the Vuelta a Espana brings the riders from Betanzos to San Andrés de Teixido over three ascents, including the summit finish of Mirador Veixia.