Movistar, López apologize in wake of Friday’s controversial stage

Cooler heads prevailed ahead of the Vuelta's penultimate stage following a wild ride that saw Movistar at the center of controversy.

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Tempers that flared in the heat of Friday’s battle in Toledo cooled overnight at the Vuelta a España.

Astana’s Miguel Ángel López searched out world champion Alejandro Valverde (Movistar) at the sign-in Saturday to shake hands and “make the peace” following Friday’s emotional finish-line comments when the Colombian publicly bashed the Spaniard and his team.

“Despite the fact that Movistar made a mistake, my reaction was too strong,” López said before the start Saturday. “What Movistar did [during the stage] wasn’t the right thing, but what I said afterward wasn’t either. Valverde is a great rider, and a good person as well, and I’ve never had any problems with him. My comments came after the pain of the crash and the chaos of the moment.”

On Friday, the Vuelta descended into controversy when López and race leader Primoz Roglic (Jumbo-Visma) both were caught up in a high-speed crash little more than halfway through Friday’s stage. Movistar later accelerated at the front of the main group only to retreat when the UCI allowed fallen riders to pace back to the main pack behind team cars.

An angry López later publicly criticized Valverde and Movistar for unsportsmanlike tactics and said, “this is the not the first time they do something like this.”

Cooler heads prevailed, and by Friday evening, López begged forgiveness for his angry attacks at Valverde and Movistar via a Twitter message, writing, “my sincerest apologies to Valverde and Movistar.”

Movistar also posted two messages on Twitter, apologizing for its racing tactics in the wake of a high-speed crash and asked for clarification from the UCI on “how to proceed” in similar scenarios.

The stage and subsequent fallout pulled back the curtain on just how raw emotions are so far in this hard-fought Vuelta and revealed how hard it can be to follow some of cycling’s unwritten rules.

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