Miguel Ángel López has discussed his version of events that ultimately led to his dramatic departure from Movistar, revealing that tensions were rising between himself and the team even before his mid-race Vuelta a España abandonment.
Speaking to the media, including Colombian newspaper El Tiempo, in a press conference on Wednesday, López offered reason as to why he broke his contract with Movistar, after originally signing until the end of 2023.
“It wasn’t due to my condition,” López said. “It was like a cup overflowing. There were a lot of things that were building up, and the best thing I could have done was to make this decision and leave Movistar. It’s not something I’ll do again, but the lesson I take away is that you have to be where you want to be in order to shine.
“There’s a bit of regret for not finishing on the podium, but there are details I prefer not to talk about, it’s a closed chapter now.
"I didn’t want to be there, and I arrived at an agreement, and that was the best thing that could have happened. Now I am in a place where I am valued, where they want me.”
López terminated his contract with Movistar on October 1, and he has since announced that he'll re-join Astana-Qazaqstan for 2022. While he recognises that failing to fulfil his contract may seem disrespectful, he had to prioritise working in an environment where he could perform to his best.
“The best thing to do was to leave," López told reporters. "To some, it appears a lack of respect, but the facts say something else. The most important thing is to be where you like to be, wherever it is, and do things with passion."
López eventually left Movistar after controversially abandoning stage 19 of the Vuelta a España mid-race. However, the Colombian couldn't reveal any exact details as to why refused to finish the race, due to a confidentiality clause inserted into the agreement to dissolve his contract.
The 27-year-old suggests that his Vuelta reaction came due to building tensions after he signed a contract extension in August, claiming that he was blocked from representing Colombia at the Olympics and that he would have to share leadership with Enric Mas and Alejandro Valverde for the Grand Tour in Spain.
“I had just extended my contract, and then things happened, and there were details that I later discovered little by little,” he said.
"Not going to the Olympics, pulling out of the Tour not of my own volition, and then in the Vuelta there were other moments of great tension with the sharing of the leadership. At Movistar it's always been that way - Nairo and Landa also experienced it in previous years. I came to feel that same tension."
López was Colombia's reserve rider for the Olympics, but could have ridden for his country after Daniel Martínez pulled out. López claims though that Movistar blocked him from participating.
"I was good to go but Movistar's plan was to not give me permission because it was a hassle with the Vuelta in mind, and I wasn't able to argue otherwise," he said. "It was an order from the team. It hurts me and annoys me, not having gone to Tokyo."
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