Miguel Ángel López eases pressure on Movistar with his first Vuelta a España stage in four years

The Colombian was the only rider able to push on away from the other favourites on the final climb

Miguel Ángel López wins stage 18 of the Vuelta a España
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Miguel Ángel López admits that he and the team "knew it was an important day and we had to take advantage of it" as the 2021 Vuelta a España touched it's highest point on the Altu d'El Gamoniteiru.

The Colombian Movistar rider pushed on with around 7km to go on the final climb as the race went into the clouds. López was the only rider who was able to gap the group of favourites while the pace was being set by Sepp Kuss (Jumbo-Visma).

López gained 14 seconds on the leader's jersey of Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma), but it was the stage win that was his focus.

>>> Miguel Ángel López soars to stage 18 victory on monstrous Altu d'El Gamoniteiru at Vuelta a España

Speaking after the stage, López said: "I wanted to win again in La Vuelta for a long time and I have achieved it thanks to the magnificent work of my team-mates, despite the fact that there are only five of us after the loss of Carlos [Verona], Alejandro [Valverde] and [Johan] Jacobs.

"Today we gave a nice show and we go away with this nice victory. We are now calm, we knew it was an important day and we had to take advantage of it."

López hasn't won a stage of the Vuelta for four years, so it meant a lot to the 27-year-old to come out on top on what he described as the 'queen stage'.

"It had been four years since I won at La Vuelta and it’s even better in the queen stage, I do it with love and desire for my son as well," he continued. 

"I think this victory means a lot for Movistar because of the great work of all the team, only those of us who are there know the suffering day by day, it is not only talking and criticising."

There has been no Spanish stage winner in any of the Grand Tours in the 2021 season so far, but Movistar will be content that they managed to get a stage win, albeit not with a Spanish rider. 

The 19th stage favours a breakaway or a sprinter who can get over the hills, so it is not likely to feature the likes of López and Mas.

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