Miguel Ángel López critical of Movistar as he reveals list of concerns that led to split

Vuelta Espana 2021 - 76th Edition - 17th stage Unquera - Lagos de Covadonga 185,8 km - 01/09/2021 - Miguel Angel Lopez (COL - Movistar Team) - photo Luis Angel Gomez/BettiniPhoto©2021
López at the Vuelta two days before his exit (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Miguel Ángel López has opened up about his controversial exit from Movistar, revealing that, even before that infamous incident at the Vuelta a España, he had a number of mounting concerns.

The Colombian remains tight-lipped about the very exchanges that saw him storm out of the Spanish Grand Tour two days from the end, given the confidentiality clause inserted into the agreement to dissolve his contract. 

However, he has indicated a wider range of concerns that perhaps built up to that moment, questioning decisions from team management and referencing predecessors Nairo Quintana and Mikel Landa in highlighting the tensions surrounding team leadership. 

Despite an early-season delay due to COVID-19, López started out so brightly at the Spanish team that both parties signed a two-year contract extension ahead of the Tour de France, but things soon unravelled. 

López crashed and lost time during the first week and has now suggested the decision to withdraw after stage 18 was not his own. Furthermore, he claims he was blocked from representing Colombia the Olympics in order to focus on the Vuelta, where he once again shared leadership with Enric Mas and Alejandro Valverde.

"I renewed the contract before the Tour but, before going to the Vuelta, certain things were happening, and there were certain details that I was discovering little by little," López told various Spanish newspapers

"Not going to the Olympics, pulling out of the Tour not of my own volition, and then in the Vuelta there were other moments of great tension with the sharing of the leadership. At Movistar it's always been that way - Nairo and Landa also experienced it in previous years. I came to feel that same tension."

With regards to the Olympics, which took place in Tokyo shortly after the Tour, López was the reserve rider for Colombia and a spot opened up when Daniel Martínez pulled out, but he claims Movistar didn't let him go, and Colombia ended up racing a rider short.

"I was good to go but Movistar's plan was to not give me permission because it was a hassle with the Vuelta in mind, and I wasn't able to argue otherwise," he said. "It was an order from the team. It hurts me and annoys me, not having gone to Tokyo."

López, who won the queen stage atop El Gamoniteiru, was sitting third overall at the Vuelta at the start of that fateful stage 19, but Mas was one place above. After he missed a key split and lost his grip on the podium, he suddenly gave up the chase and climbed off his bike, with his father later claiming he was ordered to slow down to protect Mas' position.

López has no real regrets, expressing sympathy for his teammates but disdain for the team's top management. 

"The work the teammates do is impeccable, and the same goes for the staff - the masseurs, the mechanics. Here, the thing is that the team don't manage things, and that prevents them from achieving higher," he said. 

Following the mutual agreement to terminate his contract, López has engineered a return to Astana, where he started his professional career in 2015 and struck podium finishes at the Giro and Vuelta. 

"Now I'm off to a place where I'm valued and where things are done differently," López said.

"You have to be in a place where you feel good, where you can make an impact without people depriving you of things, where everyone supports you where there's a good atmosphere, with no tension or egotism. 

"This is the best thing for us both. Sometimes you take a certain path and then realise it was the wrong one. You can't turn back time but it serves as life experience."

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