CyclingPub interview - Miguel Angel Lopez: Now my time has come
Dec 20 2017 02:30 pm CET

CyclingPub interview - Miguel Angel Lopez: Now my time has come
CyclingPub interview - Miguel Angel Lopez: Now my time has come
Photo of Miguel Angel Lopez Jonathan Roorda / CyclingPub.com

In an interview during the winter training camp of Astana in Spain, Miguel Angel Lopez talked to CyclingPub.com about 2017, the season that is to come, his dreams, Colombian cycling and Alexander Vinokourov.

The 2017 season wasn't easy for Lopez, who first suffered a tibia fracture during a training ride in Colombia and then broke his finger during the Tour de Suisse, but it finished on a positive note with two stage victories at the Vuelta a España.

Moments before the interview, Astana announced the contract extension for the Colombian until 2020.

What do the confidence and support that Astana has had in you from the beginning, mean to you?

It is fundamental for me to feel the support of the entire team, of an entire staff that trusts you. It is very important because I started very young at only 20, and to go from junior to the highest step of cycling, where the level is very high and the races very fast, was very difficult. The body still hasn't developed and matured enough so you get some injuries, but the team was always behind me in those moments, giving me all the support and confidence.

Last year when I was preparing for 2017 I suffered an accident caused by a recklessness of a driver in Colombia and had a fracture in my leg. The team was always there for me and we came out of that one, I started riding again and I'm very happy.

With the departure of Fabio Aru, you became one of the key riders of the team. Does this put a lot of pressure on you?

To be honest, I don't feel any pressure because in past years, with Fabio and (Vincenzo) Nibali, I went to races with them but in a free role. So if I felt good I could go to win the stage or if I could be with the leaders until the end, I would do it. I've always had my mind set on being a good rider and winning Grand Tours and now my time has come. This year I rode the Vuelta, the first three-week race that I ever finished, and it was very good, considering that I was just recovering from the fracture and not racing enough, so I think my work there was really good.

Now I'm preparing my season with the Giro d'Italia on my mind, going for the General Classification, and I don't feel any pressure because I've always thought that when you prepare yourself well and work hard the results will come, also counting on luck and the support of the team.

What was it like to win your first stages on a Grand Tour (Vuelta a España 2017)?

I had a rough start in 2017 and after spending eight months off the bike and away from competition, it was hard to get to the rhythm that other riders had. I felt very good at the start of the second week of the Vuelta and that week and the next I felt very strong, which gave me confidence and motivation. At the end, I didn't expect my year to finish like that, and I did it. Now I focus on the new season with the feelings the Vuelta gave me.

How will the start of your 2018 season look?

I will start with the Tour of Oman, then I will go to Abu Dhabi, then back to Italy to ride Tirreno-Adriatico. I will then have a small break, after which I will come back to do the Tour of the Alps and the Giro.

What do you think of the route of the 2018 Giro d'Italia?

I've been wanting to ride the Giro for a long time, I wanted to do it in 2017 because it was the 100th edition, but the problems of the fracture and other inconveniences didn't let me. This year I will prepare very well because it is a very beautiful race, which always gets my attention and the route is very hard, so surely it will fit me well.

What is your opinion about the new race Colombia Oro y Paz?

I think it will be a great race, a great door for Colombian cycling. It will be the first edition, but I can already see that it will be a great show. It's a race in which many European riders are going to see the country, how things are done there and to watch the Colombia they dream and think about when they see the level of the riders that are now in the WorldTour.

It will also be a good showcase for the Colombian promises, so they can show themselves and ride next to the WorldTour teams that are invited. Surely, this first edition will be magnificent.

Would you like to eventually take part in that race?

I would love to because it is our race, the race of our country. It would be very nice to be there riding at home, doing my best and giving a great show to my people and all the public. But this year, because it coincides with the first race I have on the calendar in Oman it is complicated to go, but for the second or third edition, I will do my best to be there.

A couple of years ago you said that you had the intention of winning the three Grand Tours, is that dream still intact?

It has always been intact. Since I started my career as a cyclist I've had that in mind. It would be so nice to be one of the riders that wins the three big races, I don't know how many times or if I would even do it, but that is my dream. I dream of winning a Tour de France, a Vuelta a España and a Giro d'Italia. Those are my objectives and I am working hard on them, and God willing in the future I will be able to do it.

What is it like for a rider with your characteristics to work with Alexander Vinokourov?

I've always looked up to him. I was little when he was a rider and he won the 2012 Olympics when I was starting as a cyclist. He always caught my eye because he was a very aggressive rider, combative, a fighter. Having him as my boss gives me a lot of motivation and during the Vuelta, in the stage where he came to see me I took a victory in the Sierra Nevada and he was very happy, also motivated because he sees a bright future in me. He gives me a lot of confidence and motivation.

He tells me to keep calm, he says that I have to face things with a lot of tranquillity, step by step and being very patient. He says that I have to work progressively and very hard, keeping the discipline to get to see good results.

By Mary Cardenas




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