'It's like coming back home': Miguel Ángel López on returning to Astana after Movistar contract termination

The Colombian climber has set himself the challenge of winning the Giro d'Italia in 2022

Miguel Ángel López
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Miguel Ángel López has said his return to Astana is "like coming back home" after his contract termination with Movistar.

López left Astana at the end of 2019 as the team struggled with financial issues, the Colombian joined Spanish WorldTour team Movistar, but that all came crumbling down on the penultimate stage of the Vuelta a España

The 27-year-old from Pesca was lying in third place overall just 13 seconds behind team-mate Enric Mas. But after a split in the group of leaders López lost touch and, due to an infernal pace by Bahrain Victorious, never made - he later abandoned amid frustration.

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Speaking on the Movistar situation López was reserved saying: "Sometimes you have to makes changes. It might work out well, it might not. Things happened like they did and, in the end, it all serves as experience, something to hold onto."

López preferred to look forward as he comes back to his old team, already wearing the 2021 team tracksuit while not officially riding for them yet. 

The target for the year is once again a Grand Tour, specifically the Giro d'Italia, but López has made it clear that he anticipates being much more comfortable amid his new team. 

"It's like coming back home, I’m seeing the same directors as before, riders I’ve ridden with before, like Vincenzo [Nibali] and [Alexey] Lutsenko. I’m practically re-taking the path I was on a year previously.

"The route for both the Giro and the Tour de France caught my eye but I’m going to focus solely on the Giro and then we’ll see. At this point I don’t know if I’ll be doing the Tour or not. I’m going to put everything into being good at the Giro."

López's best Grand Tour results have come at the Giro and the Vuelta where he got third overall, both in 2018. His best placing at the Tour was 6th in the 2020 race. López abandoned the 2021 Tour to look at the Olympic Games after underperforming in France. 

But he feels it's time that he won a big race: "I’ve very been close in the past, including in the Vuelta this year when I was on the podium [before abandoning]. I’m going in with high hopes, a lot of motivation, especially being in a ’new’ team. 

"We can dream about being able to achieve something big. I’ve been very close before and can think about going for a stage and, as a minimum, finishing in the top positions, like the podium."

López is also being joined by a staggering 13 other new signings including the returning Nibali as well as talented riders such as Gianni Moscon from Ineos Grenadiers and Giro stage winner Joe Dombrowski.

On the flip side, Astana will have a very different feel to it with 11 riders leaving the team, including Aleksandr Vlasov, Luis León Sánchez, Omar Fraile and the Izagirre brothers Ion and Gorka.

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