Movistar confirm Miguel Angel Lopez will leave team after sudden Vuelta a España abandon

Cycling: Vuelta España 2021 / Spain Tour 2021 / La Vuelta 2021 / 18 Etapa / 18 Stage /
Salas - Alto del Gamoniteiru (162,6 km) 2/09/2021
Vuelta España 2021 / Spain Tour 2021 / La Vuelta 2021 / 18 Etapa / 18 Stage /
Luis Angel Gomez
(Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

Movistar have announced that Miguel Ángel López will depart the team on October 1 in the aftermath of his sudden abandon on the penultimate stage of the Vuelta a España.

In a short statement on Saturday, Eusebio Unzue’s team said: “Abarca Sports announces today the resolution by mutual agreement of the contract of the rider Miguel Ángel López, as of next October 1st.”

López was lying third overall ahead of the final weekend of this year’s Vuelta after winning on the demanding summit finish atop Altu d'El Gamoniteiru on stage 18. The Colombian was caught out when the red jersey group split on the road to Mos on stage 20, however, and he was understood to have been frustrated by his team’s orders not to chase even as his podium place slipped away.

Movistar had López’s co-leader Enric Mas up ahead, and the Spaniard duly sealed second place overall thanks to his performance on the stage. López, who was set to drop to fifth overall ahead of the final time trial, opted to abandon the stage despite entreaties from directeur sportif Patxi Vila and teammate Jose Joaquín Rojas to continue.

López issued an apology on social media after the stage, saying, “We are humans, not machines.” He did not attend Movistar’s post-Vuelta dinner in Santiago de Compostela after the final stage.

The day after the Vuelta, Movistar manager Eusebio Unzue expressed disappointment at López’s abandon and confirmed that a parting of the ways was a distinct possibility. “It’s hard,” Unzue told Onda Cero. “It really worries me because the guy who walked out, he’s a good guy, a noble guy, but he ended up taking the least appropriate decision.”

Movistar confirmed López’s departure on Saturday morning and it seems unlikely that he will race again before he formally leaves the team at the end of this month.

The 27-year-old only joined Movistar this season, and he claimed victory at the Vuelta a Andalucia and Mont Ventoux Dénivelé Challenge, though he abandoned the Tour de France in July.

López has yet to confirm his next move, but he has been linked with a possible return to Astana, where he spent his entire professional career prior to 2021. The Colombian finished on the podium of both the Giro d’Italia and Vuelta with Astana in 2018, and he was on the cusp of a podium finish at last year’s Tour only to drop to 6th overall in the final time trial to La Planche des Belles Filles.

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