Movistar considering termination of Miguel Ángel López's contract

Mont Ventoux Denivele Challenge 2021 - 3rd Edition - Vaison la Romaine - Mont Ventoux 153 km - 08/06/2021 - Miguel Angel Lopez (COL - Movistar Team) - photo William Cannarella/CV/BettiniPhoto©2021
López won the Mont Ventoux Challenge earlier in the year (Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Miguel Angel López could see his time as a Movistar rider cut short, as team management consider terminating his contract following his controversial exit from the Vuelta a España. 

The Colombian won the queen stage of the race on Thursday and was third overall, but suddenly abandoned the race on the penultimate stage after missing a key split in the GC group. 

López issued an apology in the aftermath and vaguely stated that “we are humans, not machines”, while team boss Eusebio Unzué criticised his rider but refused to look too far ahead. 

On Monday evening, however, Unzué was interviewed on Spanish radio, on Onda Cero, and confirmed that López’s future was up in the air.

When asked about the possibility of a statement this week announcing a parting of ways between rider and team, he said: “It’s one of the options, that’s clear.”

López joined Movistar from Astana at the start of the season on an initial single-year deal but, after he won the Ruta del Sol and Mont Ventoux Challenge, a new two-year deal was signed just ahead of the Vuelta. 

“We’ve wanted to put a bit of distance between things, analyse the Vuelta, and in a couple of days take the definitive decision,” Unzué added. 

Unzué revealed the López did not attend the team’s ceremonial post-Vuelta dinner and celebrations in Santiago de Compostela on Sunday evening, following the conclusion of the final time trial. 

“He wasn’t there. He was with his family, and they were able to be together with a bit more calm,” Unzué said. 

“There was a good atmosphere at the dinner. At the end of the day, you have to separate things. Thinking about what we came to this Vuelta to do, we wanted to win a stage and have a rider on the podium, and we achieved both. It’s true that up to the last days we had the possibility of having a rider on both the left and right of Primož Roglič, but the events with Miguel Angel deprived us of that possibility.”

Unzué reiterated his disappointment with López, having commented on Sunday that the Colombian’s head ‘disconnected’ when he decided to pull to the side of the road and stop racing.

López has not offered an in-depth explanation for his actions, but his coach has claimed he was told to stop chasing, so as not to bring any other riders back to Enric Mas, who was second overall. Unzué did not respond directly to that allegation but again blamed López’s handling of the situation. 

“There was a race situation that he was unable to resolve, and I think that generated in a sort of frustration, and led him to the worst possible decision, which was to abandon, after all the work done by his teammates, and the lack of respect that showed to all of them, plus of course our sponsors and the race itself," Unzue said.

“It’s hard. 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.”

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