Sport • 03 September, 2018

Miguel Angel Lopez is 4th La Covatilla

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La Vuelta Ciclista a España 2018 has seen the first big battle among the GC contenders on the tough climb La Covatilla after 200,8 km of racing at stage 9, reports the press service of the club.

Thanks to the huge support of the whole Astana Pro Team and, especially, Jan Hirt on the final climb, Miguel Angel Lopez was always on a perfect position in the group. Thus, inside the final 3 km he tried to attack for several times and, finally, made a good uphill sprint, taking a solid 4th place, finishing just behind three riders from the early breakaway.

- For sure, the climb was hard, but because of the head wind there was not a good place to attack before. Indeed, it was quite impossible to do any difference because of the wind. Later, I tried to do something, when the wind has changed its direction. But, the last kilometers were not steep enough. I felt good and my team did an incredible job today. In the end of the day it was impossible to fight for a stage win since the break did it until the end. But, I can be happy with today’s performance, - said Miguel Angel Lopez.

Stage 9 from Talavera de la Reina to La Covatilla included 4 categorized climbs with the final HC summit Alto de la Covatilla. A group of 11 riders broke away clear in the beginning of the stage, taking a good gap over 9 minutes. It was impossible for the peloton to catch the escapers, so, these riders played the victory: the American Ben King made a strong solo attack, winning his second stage on this Vuelta. Bauke Mollema finished second (+0.48), Dylan Teuns did third, finishing just ahead of Miguel Angel Lopez, who almost caught him at the finish line.

Astana Pro Team did a fantastic job for its leader. Firstly, Nikita Stalnov and Omar Fraile on a short, but steep and cobbled climb, and later, Andrey Zeits, Pello Bilbao, Dario Cataldo and Davide Villella at the bottom of La Covatilla. In the end there was Jan Hirt, who provided Miguel Angel with a great support during almost the whole final climb, leaving his captain only in a moment of his attack.

Stage 9 introduced some big changes in the general classification of the race. Thus, the Britton Simon Yates took the red jersey, while Miguel Angel Lopez moved up to 7th place, just 27 seconds behind the leader. Also, the Astana captain moved into the lead of the best young rider classification.

Tomorrow at the Vuelta a España will be held the first rest day, which Astana Pro Team will spend in Salamanca.

Photo credit: ©Bettiniphoto

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