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Astana has been busy renewing with many of its core talents lately, but Miguel Ángel López has not been among those named in recent announcements, and as of Tuesday, he is officially moving on. Movistar has announced that the 26-year-old Colombian will be coming aboard in 2021.
“Miguel Ángel López’s signing marks a really important addition to our men’s team,” said team manager Eusebio Unzué. “Having him aboard, we’ll not only enjoy the services of an experienced rider of great results, but also the style of racing from someone who always conceives this sport on the attack, trying to catch the rivals by surprise. He’s someone who knows well what it takes to step onto the podium of the Grand Tours, and who’s achieved important victories in one-week stage races. His addition to the team further bolsters our potential for the big tours in 2021.”
López has been with Astana since turning pro there back in 2015 after a promising season as an under-23 that saw him win the Tour de l’Avenir. With Astana, he compiled a strong resume as one of the strongest climbers in the peloton, riding to a total of six Grand Tour top 10s in eight appearances, with podium finishes at both the Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta a España in 2018. He has also won stages at the Tour de France and the Vuelta and taken overall titles at the Volta a Catalunya and the Tour de Suisse.
2020 marked his debut appearance at the Tour, and in addition to his stage win, he finished sixth overall. He went into the subsequent Giro with high hopes for a GC challenge but crashed out of the race in the opening time trial.
At Movistar, López will join a handful of strong climbers hoping to usher in a new era of GC success for the team that saw Richard Carapaz, Nairo Quintana, and Mikel Landa all depart this season, while Alejandro Valverde is in the twilight years of his lengthy career. Movistar will look to López and Enric Mas to lead the way for the team moving forward.
López’s transfer to Movistar is little surprise after weeks of rumors, but it does come only a little over a year after he very publicly criticized the team and leader Valverde at the 2019 Vuelta a España. Movistar pushed the pace in the pack after López and Primoz Roglic crashed on stage 19, and López vented his frustration in a post-race interview.
“They always take advantage of these moments,” López said at the time. “They’re always stupid. They are the same ones who do these things. It’s their usual reaction.”
López would later apologize for his comments while still maintaining that Movistar had nonetheless been in the wrong.
Things appear to have been smoothed over between rider and team now, with López praising his new team in Tuesday’s press release.
“I’m so happy to be part of one of the most important teams in the world of cycling,” he said. “As I’ve always done, I’ll try to achieve my fullest potential to represent the Movistar Team and the people of Colombia in the best possible way. This has always been a very significant team for my home fans and a crucial factor for the growth of the sport in Latin America, so I’m excited to join them next year.”