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"I have always been inspired by the three grand tours, and my dream is to win all three someday. It is not impossible, it is difficult, but it is a matter of preparation."

Photo: Sirotti




30.12.2015 @ 08:00 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Miguel Angel Lopez (1994, Astana) was one of the revelations of last season. Despite having just over 30 days of racing, he proved his talent at the Tour de Suisse and won a stage in the Vuelta a Burgos at only 21 years of age and in his first year as a professional. The results motivate him to face 2016 during which his focus will be to gain experience and shine in the Vuelta a Espana.


BiciCiclismo met Lopez at the Astana training camp in the Spanish city of Calpe. One year ago he was shy and nervous but now he is clearly more confident after a year at the pro level. He represents the bright future of Colombian cycling that is already very present with the likes of Nairo Quintana, Rigoberto Uran and Esteban Chaves. "I am more confident, I'm not new anymore. The WorldTour always needs respect, but this year is different due to the experience of racing at the highest level this past year,” he told the Spanish website.


Superman Lopez already knows his calendar and he will start racing at the Tour de San Luis. "The first thing I plan is to start quietly, with more confidence, and get ready for the Vuelta a Espana which is my main objective and where I believe I will have freedom because in principle the two team leaders [Aru and Nibali] will not be there. And I want to take full advantage. Earlier, in Catalonia, the Basque Country and Romandie, the idea is to be in good condition," he explained. The Vuelta will be his debut in a grand tour. "I can’t tell if I'm a rider for long races because I've never done more than two weeks. I had  good time during the week and a half in Switzerland but I lack experience in those three weeks.”


Now Lopez hopes to follow in the footsteps of Quintana and Chaves and relies on his young age to get to the top. "I am four years younger than them, but at the rate I am growing, we're maybe going to clash in a race this year. The results show that young people have been very strong lately, Nairo was winning at 23 of age. The idea is to grow slowly and I do not know if it will take me two or three years to be at the level that they have now: Nairo won the Giro at 25, Aru has also won the Vuelta at 25. Maybe it will be sooner or later in my case, but that’s the idea,” he said. "Having this whole generation of Colombians in Europe makes me very proud because we are a group of locals who help each other and give each other advice," he added.


And Lopez’ goals go even further. His dreams are ambitious. "I have always been inspired by the three grand tours, and my dream is to win all three someday. It is not impossible, it is difficult, but it is a matter of preparation. Last year I discovered WorldTour races and I had a good level in Switzerland,” he explained.


The Colombian has adapted to Astana where they know they have a diamond that they need to polish. "Gradually I am learning more. Last year I was shy which was normal. Everything was the new. The team relies heavily on me, I'm comfortable with them and my teammates have treated me very well. I am happy here. I get along with the veterans, with Tiralongo, Vanotti, Sanchez, Scarponi. They have enough experience. Having Aru and Nibali is a big motivation. I see them as a mirror, a way to pursue my own dreams," he said.


For now, he knows he has to improve in the fight against the clock. "In Switzerland, I realized that the time trial is very important. It is paramount in a race and I must be well prepared. There I dropped from fifth to seventh. I have to work. But my main terrain is the mountains as I am a climber. I think the Grand Tours can be won by climbers but we must defend ourselves in the TTs to not lose everything. That's the idea.”


In his home country, it does not lack any terrain for training. "I prepare myself where I live, in Boyaca Sogamoso which is at 2600 meters, and there is considerable terrain to train, even on the flats and of course on the climbs. Puerto Crucero is a climb at almost 3,300 meters, for example," he explained.


In the 2015 season, he regrets the lack of consistency. "The few days of competition was the thorn that stuck with me but for various reasons: my health and my knee bothered me a lot and I did not start with a very good basis for the season. I had just joined the WorldTour and had no experience," he said. Nevertheless, he had a breakthrough in Switzerland where he was fourth in the queen stage and seventh overall behind Spilak, Thomas, Dumoulin, Pinot, Pozzovivo and Jungels. "Not bad for the first year," he said. "I was second in a stage in Turkey and was with the best in Switzerland. It was very important and motivating to ride with Pinot who won the queen stage of the Tour, and Geraint Thomas who was the number one domestique for Froome. If I prepare well, it means that I can be at this level in a grand tour,” he said. The icing on the cake was his stage win in Burgos.



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