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Movistar team boss Eusebio Unzué is considering terminating Miguel Ángel López’s contract, according to a radio interview with Onda Cero.
Two days after winning the queen stage, while holding third overall in the general classification, López missed a crucial mid-race split containing Jack Haig. At the time Haig was fourth overall, a minute and 43 seconds behind López. With around 20 km to go, once his podium spot was long gone López abandoned the race.
The resulting drama has bounced back and forth between the Spanish team owners and the Colombian press. Unzué made his opinion clear over the weekend: “It was him who had to close this small gap, and unfortunately he could not,” he said. “This is what caused the situation and the later consequences.” Colombian media and supporters have intimated, thus far without any solid evidence, that the team didn’t want Lopez to vault over Spaniard Enric Mas in the final time trial, and so hung him out to dry.
López’s current contract is set to run until the end of 2023, two more seasons.
Prior to the conclusion of stage 20, there was a bit of back and forth between Movistar and Rafa Acevedo, López’s coach. Now, Movistar team boss Unzué confirmed on Spanish radio that López’s future with the Movistar team is uncertain.
“We’ve wanted to put a bit of distance between things, analyse the Vuelta, and in a couple of days take the definitive decision,” said Unzué. “There was a race situation that he was unable to resolve, and I think that generated in a sort of frustration and led him to the worst possible decision, which was to abandon, after all the work done by his teammates, and the lack of respect that showed to all of them, plus of course our sponsors and the race itself.”
Movistar was on track for one of its best grand tours in years. Enric Mas finished second overall behind Primož Roglič and López won the queen stage, stage 18. The results top their Tour de France, where the top Movistar rider was Mas in eighth.
“It’s true that up to the last days we had the possibility of having a rider on both the left and right of Primož Roglič, but the events with Miguel Angel deprived us of that possibility,” said Unzué.