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by Shane Stokes
November 21, 2017
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Left without an experienced Grand Tour leader after Fabio Aru moved to UAE Team Emirates, something Astana’s general manager Alexander Vinokurov claimed was both unexpected and unfair, the Kazakh squad has named Miguel Angel Lopez as its protected stage race rider for 2018.
“Miguel is a very talented cyclist with great potential,” Vinokurov told the Colombian publication El Tiempo. “In addition, he is still very young and he has a lot of career ahead of him. Unfortunately, so far, some health problems and injuries have not allowed him to fully show his potential. But, this season already showed what high level can reach.”
Vinokurov said it wasn’t yet clear if Lopez would target the Tour or another three-week race. “When we know the three routes of the big three we will decide where Miguel will compete as a leader, but be sure that we have him as the leader of Astana for 2018.”
Lopez won two stages in this year’s Vuelta a España, took eighth overall and was the best young rider. He is 23 years of age, and took both the Tour de Suisse and Milan-Turin in 2016. Vinokourov believes he believes that he has the ability to win a Grand Tour in the future.
“He has everything to do it: talent, perseverance, fighting spirit, climbing skills and a strong time trial,” he said. “He just need time and experience. He already did the Vuelta a España, and, speaking of the Giro and the Tour, he has to try at least to make his debut in these races.”
Click through to read the full interview at El Tiempo.