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López welcomes approaching return to competition

Cyclingnews
Astana’s Miguel Angel López celebrates his victory on stage 4 of the 2020 Volta ao Algarve

Astana's Miguel Angel López has welcomed the approaching return to racing from his home in Colombia, where he can once again train on the road due to some coronavirus restrictions having been lifted, but the Grand Tour contender has yet to announce what his race programme might look like once WorldTour-level competition resumes in August.

Twenty-six-year-old López has yet to make his debut at the Tour de France – which has been the domain of Astana teammate Jakob Fuglsang in recent years – but has ridden the last two editions of the Giro d'Italia, at which he finished third and seventh, and has taken top-10 places overall at the last three editions of the Vuelta a España.

This year's Tour has now been scheduled to take place from August 29-September 20, while the Giro has been put back to October 3-25 and the Vuelta has been slated for October 20-November 8.

López took the race leader's jersey after the opening team time trial at the 2019 Vuelta a España last August, and would lose it and take it twice more before losing it a third and last time in the first week alone ahead of eventually finishing fifth overall behind winner Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) in Madrid at the end of the race.

López also wore the white jersey as the best young rider for much of the Vuelta, but eventually lost out in that competition to UAE Team Emirates' Tadej Pogačar, although he did win the overall combativity award for his efforts throughout the race, and had Fuglsang riding in his service in Spain.

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It was a strong finish to a successful season, which also saw López win the white jersey at the Giro and take the overall classification at both the Volta a Catalunya in Spain in March and the Tour Colombia 2.1 on home turf in February.

With top-eight finishes in all seven of the Grand Tours that he's completed, it remains to be seen which Grand Tours – possibly a combination of two – López plans to ride during this shortened 2020 season.

"It's great that the main calendar of races has already been determined, and we know that the races will be held over a fairly short period of time, from August to November," López said on his team's website on Monday.

"Of course, our sports directors and coaches are now preparing plans for training camps and races for each rider. But for me, personally, the main goal at the moment is to get back to racing as soon as possible. I want everything to return to normal and the season to resume – the sooner the better," he said.

"It's great that I now have the opportunity to train on the road again – to gain mileage and gradually try to restore the form that I had at the beginning of the season," said López, who won a stage and finished third overall at the Volta ao Algarve in February, ahead of cycling's COVID-19 shutdown.

"I've always in touch with the sports directors and coaches at the team, and in particular with my coach, Maurizio Mazzoleni, who's been coordinating my training process.

"We're all going through a difficult time, and in order to remain motivated and willing to train, you need to have a strong spirit and mental strength," he said.

"Of course, this is when the support of my family – who are always close to me – and the support of my team comes to the fore," López added. "The support of the team has been an unconditional factor, which has allowed me to train at home calmly and to keep my motivation high."