Miguel Angel Lopez powers to the top of the toughest mountain stage to claim the stage win
By Chuck Gibson (Interview quotes provided by Le Tour de France)
INTERNATIONAL (September 16, 2020) – They all climbed what seemed like all day long, but Miguel Angel Lopez climbed to a first place finish at LA LOZE mountaintop finish to beat the Yellow Jersey Primoz Roglic out of a 10 second bonus at the top winning Stage 17 of the Tour
There was more action than anyone could have hoped for in the challenging mountain stage with Alaphillipe, Kamna and Carapaz on the go in an early attack. Carapaz made the right moves despite a valiant aggressive ride by Julian Alaphillipe and looked like he might hold off the chase group late, but was caught during the final climb by American rider Sepp Kuss. Kuss was protecting the Yellow Jersey lead of teammate Primoz Roglic when he was attacked by Lopez. Lopez rode on to victory while Kuss broke and ended with a 4th place finish for the day. His work was not in vain though as he paced Roglic to a second place finish in the stage.
“I’m very happy. I feel emotional because of the work done at home with my family, my wife, my son… I dedicate this victory to them,” said Lopez. “It hasn’t been easy to arrive where I am now. We were confident. I was on my terrain. At 2000 meters of altitude, I feel like at home.”
Lopez says his primary goal is to reach Paris and he’ll continue to take it day-by-day to the end. Today was a great day for the Columbian rider. At the start of the stage, it was all about who DID NOT START the day. Egan Bernal, who just a couple stages back was in serious contention for the lead only 22 seconds behind the Yellow Jersey of Roglic, has quit the Tour – did NOT START the day. At the end of the stage, it was all about the powerful climb by Lopez and the strong finish by Primoz Roglic who was able to widen the gap over his second place fellow Slovenian, friend, and competitor Tadej Pogacar. Yet, Roglic is not ready to say Tour victory is his.
“I don’t think the job is done. There are still some hard stages to come and Tadej Pogačar is a great climber,” said Roglic. “Sepp’s attack pointed me when to attack myself. On this climb, every meter counts. Having his help was really good. Again, it has been a very big performance from him and the team. But I was happy with the position I was in before the stage, and now I’m even happier.”
Primoz Roglic and Tadej Pogacar remain first and second, but the gap is now 57 seconds between the two Slovenian competitors. Lopes super performance and the Stage win moved him all the way up to third in the overall standings just 1 minute -26 seconds behind Roglic and the Yellow Jersey. The Tour resumes Thursday with Stage 18.
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