Movistar react to result of Vuelta a España after drama in final week

It was a bizarre close for the Spanish squad, after López abandoned in protest and Mas equalled his best ever finish

Enric Mas at the Vuelta a España 2021
Enric Mas at the Vuelta a España 2021
(Image credit: Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)

The 2021 Vuelta a España offered no shortage of material for the next series of the Movistar Netflix series.  

In the final week of their home Grand Tour, Movistar were riding high in the general classification, with Enris Mas and Miguel Ángel López sitting second and third overall respectively, poised to try and claw back at least a little time on perpetual race leader Primož Roglič. 

But on stage 20, the final mountain day of the 2021 race, the Movistar hierarchy collapsed into chaos on the road to Mos. Castro de Herville, as Colombian contender López missed a split in the front group.

With 20km left to race, news emerged that López had abandoned the race, with no obvious injuries or crash to explain why a podium rider would leave the race. 

It appears that López resigned in frustration at having missed out on the move by his GC rivals, the pressure of three weeks of hard racing finally taking their toll. 

Speaking after his shock abandon, López said "I decided to stop fighting a battle which was all but lost” as he apologised to fans and the race organisers. 

The Movistar team manager, Eusebio Unzué has now said he has never seen anything like that moment in his decades-long career in cycling. 

Speaking to Spanish broadcaster RTVE after the finish of the Vuelta, Unzué said: “[López] couldn’t handle that moment and he took it badly. I’ve seen lots of things, I’ve seen riders have bad moments and so on, but I’ve never seen that. It’s unsettling."

He added: "But they’re humans, and he couldn’t solve the problem that was created, when he couldn't close the gap on his rivals.”

"The sort of attitude he took cannot be justified. But it’s clear that the frustration and not feeling capable to be up there with the best was what caused him to sink. He couldn’t handle that moment and he sank.

"He reached a point where he couldn’t go on pedalling. His head disconnected."

But despite the drama that dominated the headlines, it was a hugely successful Grand Tour for Movistar, who remained in the fight for the GC all the way to the end, as Enric Mas matched his best ever Vuelta finish, taking second place on the final podium, while López also took victory on the queen stage of the race. 

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Mas, who finished almost five minutes down to Roglič overall after the final TT, said: “We’ve got to be really happy. In the end, only four of us were able to reach the finish, and three team-mates ended up in hospital after risking everything to help us – that’s really hard. We leave with this podium, which is a great source of pride for the whole team. I just want to say thank you, thanks so much to all riders and staff of the team. Everyone is important for this result. 

“I was thinking yesterday coming into  the hotel, and talking to my coach, that I needed to improve in those mountain stage finishes, because Roglič and the like end up taking some time on me, and that’s time I must not lose. It’s an aspect I must improve.”   

Alex Ballinger
Alex Ballinger

Alex is the digital news editor for CyclingWeekly.com. After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter and now as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output.

Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) and joining CW in 2018, Alex has covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers. 

Away from journalism, Alex is a national level time triallist, avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.